by Emmett Smith
It was the sight of one these…
…from an airliner window when I was no more than five that made me feel, most of all, safe as a little boy. The following video links tell more of the story. I knew in the early 1950s about the possibility of an A-bomb attack from the occasional talk of my grownups, and now with my father’s hand on my shoulder I looked out the window of our “Connie” or Convair passenger plane…
…and could see for myself, closeup, the huge B-36 galumphing along off to our right. It was still climbing Pop said, from North Dakota I think, making altitude. The following YouTube links give a look at all of the developments in the 1930s and WW II that led to the building of the B-36 as our first strategic H-bomber. Included is footage not only of the B-17 and B-24, and the B-29, but also of the USAAF and Air force Flying Wing experiments. I used to stand in our back garden in south Minneapolis and squint up at the high contrails heading North usually, and try to count out the six or eight separate exhaust streams. Even with Pop’s binoculars and lying on my back I couldn’t quite make them out. That made me feel best of all, though, because for sure nobody could possibly get close enough to stop them!
This is the feeling of both fear and safety that we grew up in in America’s post-WW II Baby Boom. It started in over sixty years ago and there was a big polio epidemic to go right along with it. That and the vaccinations and the air raid drills in school, and the twice-yearly “dispersal” drills together with the occasional sight from far below of the big bombers, all of that got into my blood anyway. Not that I am alone. These remembered images live on and on in our baby memory and this is, I think, the childhood basis of our emotional need right now in many groups like the NeoCons’, for some really “big” longterm doings in History and the exercise of American national power. Just like our folks’! After all, in the end nothing bad did happen to us, did it? That is what our dream of stopping the horror of History is made out of. So maybe, really, it is our remembrance of them before us that is the living root of our so-called “War on Terror,” after all that kind of gimmick worked real good in their Cold War, didn’t it?
[Emmett R Smith all text-rights reserved 18 January 2009]