I clearly remember the Cuban missile crisis in 1962. I was in Miss Toews’ grade four class at the old white wooden Kornelson School that stood on the site of the current Steinbach City Hall. At the time Steinbach was a community of only about three thousand people and we had a siren that sent out its warning at noon and six o clock every day so we kids would know it was time to head home for a meal no matter where in town our adventures had taken us.
During the Cuban Missile crisis that siren was used as an air-raid signal. When we heard it wail during the school day in the fall of 1962 my grade four classmates and I would hunker down under our wooden desks. Eventually Miss Kornelson the wiry white-haired principal of our school would come to the door to let us know we should head home. We were to go to our houses directly on a route that we had practised walking during previous drills.
In October of 1962, the possibility that the world might be involved in a nuclear war was very real. But it was averted and thinking back to that time from my childhood puts our current threat of nuclear war into perspective for me.
The world avoided disaster in 1962 and I have to believe it can do it again. In a recent address to the nation, Canada’s Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland reminded us of times in the last century when the future of democracy was hanging in the balance and the balance always tipped in democracy’s favour. She assured us it will again. I want to believe her.