By Kevin Stoda
It had been said, "Explaining a metaphor to someone is like chewing someone else's food for them". Nonetheless, when I claim to see May 8th and May 9th as bookends of important events in my life and of important events in modern world history, I do have to take time to explain.
By the way, May 9th is my birth day and May 8th is the birthday of my one and only child.
History--in the broad, abstract meaning of the term, as well as in the sense of personal history--looms large in my life (and should loom large in all our lives as we are part of a humongous narration dating back to before the creation of the stars). I felt impelled at an early age to view history as important while at the same time I was living constantly under the shadow of post-WWII nuclear annihilation that always swung like a the universe's largest dagger over my planet Earth, i.e. through the end of the Cold War. In short, the End of History that the planet Earth faced in those years when the West and the East were at each others throats colored most of my living years, i.e. as our humanity was expected to be destroyed at the hands of a global winter created by both my homeland, the USA, and the Soviet Union.
I was born in 1962--the year of the infamous October Nuclear
Showdown between the
MAY 8TH IN RECENT GLOBAL HISTORY
In short, the West celebrated VE-Day or Victory in Europe Day on May 8 and saw the war end on the European continent as ending at midnight on May 8, 1945 (Berlin Time), but since then the East has always celebrated it as occurring a day later--as the Moscow time zone is several hours ahead of Berlin's. Hence, technically, the war against the Soviet Motherland had ended a day later in the East than in the West.
Such is the relativity of history. Like two ying and yang bedfellows--or bookends--, a divided continent could not agree on the exact date for celebrating or recognizing the end of a catastrophe that had led to the death of 50 million peoples or more.
It has now been well over half a century since the clocks in
The May-8th-born Truman would permit the dropping of
atomic bombs on
Those events would discolor the end-of-war celebrations for
the next decades as a Cold-War Curtain of Distrust divided not only
Soon the nuclear arms race was on and people were having
nightmares of global annihilation. This
fear-fascination would create endless-war mobilization for my homeland and its
For example, by May 8, 1950, the US Government had become
officially convinced that neither national independence nor democratic
evolution existed in any area dominated by Soviet imperialism. They considered the
situation to be such as to warrant sending "economic aid and military equipment
to the Associated State of Indochina and to
I should also add that on May 8, 1952, allied
fighter-bombers staged the largest raid of the war on
MAY 9TH and 1962
The ending of WWII in Europe on May 8th and 9th
1945 meant that
In the states where I was to grow up (
In reply, the Missourian, President
Harry S. Truman, responded in 1947, "I believe that it must be the policy of
One piece of good news for the word was the rise of rock n
roll in the 1950s and other cultural revolutions in the 1960s. Later, on May 9,
1960, the world saw another earth-changing event. That was the day that the US
Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approve the pill Enovid as being safe for
birth control use. The pill was made by G.D. Searle and Company of
Luckily, despite the presence in the
1962 was a turning point year for the world, too . " The Cold War continued to worsen when the Russians
placed Ballistic Missiles on Cuban land just 90 miles away from the coast of
Florida in and JFK called the bluff by threatening war unless they were removed
which they were but for a short time the world was on the brink of nuclear war
and self destruction. The president then set a goal of landing a man on the
moon before the end of the decade and became more involved in politics in
1962 became the first year that both the Soviet Union and
In many ways, the Cold War and the on-and-off nuclear arms race is simple to comprehend for the children of 2012. Th pre-1990 period in modern history saw the rise of a "Balance of Terror"--with nuclear weapons and destruction as the promised future for several generations.
Things were so bad for me mentally as a child of the 1960s that I really thought or felt that with the simultaneous existence of the Cold War, the Vietnam War, and the interracial war at my home-front and the post-colonial wars everywhere, I really thought by my 3rd and 4th grade school years that the planet was in the midst of WWIII. Growing up, many adults had to explain to me that WWIII did not, in fact, already exist.
Finally, in the early 1970s the
Finally, people power began to win out in the late 1980s as many of the East European anti-nuke activists aligned themselves with democratic forces and toppled regimes across the region.
Only starting in early
1990 could I--for the first time in my life--look forward to a future that
would not be overshadowed full-time by nuclear winter. Interestingly, despite the rise of terrorism
and the growing militarization of my homeland, the
I was married four years ago and now have a daughter, who
was born on May 8, 2010. I celebrate her
birthday today with my lovely wife. My
daughter and I are the bookends with my wife in the middle. We still have hope for the future--despite
possible rise of nuclear attacks from
Factoids are collected from this website for May 8
and May 9
More on history and fallout from the Atomic Bomb Decision is here: http://www.gwu.edu/~nsarchiv/NSAEBB/NSAEBB162/index.htm