ATLANTA (AP) — Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson suggested Tuesday that U.S. citizens should train for terrorist attacks just as schoolchildren once conducted air-raid drills during the Cold War.
I am sure everyone’s experience with the public school system is different.
Carson recalled his school days during the era of nuclear tension between the U.S. and Soviet Union. “The siren would go, all the kids would get under the desks or go to their designated spot,” Carson said. “And fortunately we never had to make use of that knowledge. But it was pervasive throughout the country. Everybody knew about that. We need to start teaching people what to do once again in those situations.”
Or maybe what we tend to recall is changed by time. I have only one memory of going through one such “air-raid” drill. That drill happened in 1962 while I was attending 3rd grade at Hough elementary school in Vancouver, Washington.
Although the town used to blow a siren everyday around noon, no siren went off during our drill. A teacher assistant came into our class and explained what we should do. She told us: “When I yell FLASH, everyone needs to get under their desks and cover their heads.”
Even as a 3rd grader I was stunned. When she yelled “FLASH”, I just turned and looked out the window in the direction the flash would come from. I realized that most likely the flash of the dropped atom bomb (my kid mind envisioned a large plane like a B52 would be used in the attack) would come from our bigger-city neighbor, Portland.
Because the window I was looking out of was facing West and Portland was South, I came to the kid-version conclusion that we were fucked.
I reasoned: if the bomb landed on this side of the river then it would truly be over, as I felt we were a pretty poor target for “them” to go for. I turned back to where the teachers were standing and simply smiled and had no thought of getting under the desk.
I then realized that I had never been under a school desk before, and took this opportunity that was handed to me to do so. What I found was a fantastic array of gum, in all shapes, sizes and color.
That, more than anything, left a lasting impression on my mind. I couldn’t believe my classmates were sticking their gum under there! Up until that moment I don’t believe I had consciously thought about atom bombs or gum under my desk.
Welcome to the real world 3rd graders. You may get to grow up the way Ben Carson and I did, and experience 9/11 for real. As you go through school, maybe you will even get to experience it over and over again.
All I can say is that, at least in nuclear war and 9/11, once was more than enough for me.