Get the fingers off the button

Published 9:54 am Thursday, May 26, 2016

When I was a kid in the third grade, maybe second and fourth grades, too, I went to Rena B. Wright Elementary School in South Norfolk, right across the river from the Norfolk Naval Shipyard.

Norfolk is thick with military facilities so it was considered a prime target if the U.S. and USSR ever fell into a nuclear war.

Yes, I was one of those kids who during air raid drills had to get on my hands and knees under my desk while the nuclear bombs were falling.

That was about 1963 or so during the Cuban Missile Crisis and the height of the Cold War. There were no jokes to my knowledge. The only thing I knew at that age was that if the air raid alarm was ever real, I was dead and so was everyone I knew. It was scary.

It would be many years before I saw a comedy bit that showed black & white picture of kids crawling under their desks with the caption “and Kiss your a** goodbye.” Very funny to me because that’s what I thought, though I didn’t know cussing at three (times have sure changed), every time I had to crawl under that desk.

It’s amazing, looking back, that the authorities actually bothered with air raid drills of any sort since the Soviet bombs would have completely wiped out the Norfolk area.

I’ve been obsessed with nuclear weapons ever since. Two of my favorite movies – “Dr. Strangelove” and “Fail Safe” – came out at virtually the same time. They are very different takes on the same theme – nuclear war – and came out when I was still a kid. The character played by Slim Pickins in “Dr. Strangelove” riding a nuclear bomb being dropped on Moscow like he’s riding a bucking bronco is such a hoot.

I still carry my phobia about nuclear weapons even though I love humor regarding them.

I’m big on nuclear non-proliferation because the fewer countries that have them, the less chance of some deranged individual using them.

But lately people seem to not take the threat seriously. Donald Trump even wants nuclear proliferation – let all our allies have their own bombs.

No. The fewer folks with heir fingers on the button, the better.

All you folks that think Republicans are better at defense should disabuse yourselves of that notion. President Obama’s Iran deal will keep Iran’s hands off the button for at least a decade. May not be a perfect deal, but it’s the best we were going to get.

And I want to remind everyone of how W pushed North Korea to build nuclear weapons. And prodded Iran’s development.

Back in the 2002 State of the Union address, W declared Iraq, Iran, and North Korea the “axis of evil.” He then made it clear that the U.S. would be taking Iraq off the table.

This sent a message to Iran and North Korea that they were next. They knew if the acquired nuclear weapons they were safe, so they ramped up efforts to get them. North Korea was almost there already, but a deal with President Clinton in the ‘90s halted development. After W’s message in early 2002, North Korea broke the deal it made with Clinton and had a bomb, if memory serves, by the end of the year.

Iran, not so far along, started getting the materials together to start development.

We need to do all we can to prevent nuclear war because it doesn’t just mean we prevent a war from happening, but it minimizes a threat to human civilization. This apocalypse is something we can prevent.


Keith Hoggard is a Staff Writer at Roanoke-Chowan Publications. Contact him at or 252-332-7206.