By Joanne S Wilson
I remember the crisis very well. A recent graduate of Rice University, I was living in Houston, just a short 90 miles from Cuba. Very aware of our own proximity to Havana, my friends and I worried about our own vulnerability as well as the dangers to our country. Also, I had my own personal concerns. My college beau, who had been Navy ROTC, was cruising at that moment toward Cuba as a part of the flotilla of US ships sent to blockade the Russian ships delivering nuclear weapons. All of us were scared.
I was in the Rice football stadium watching the game with my father on the night the Russian ships were to reach the blockade. At the beginning of the game, as the national anthem played, every single person stood up, put their hand over their hearts and sang the anthem as LOUDLY as they could! It was an amazing experience. We were united in fear and determination and loyalty to our country. Those thirteen days were the time in my life when I felt the most threat to the United States from another country.
The fear during the Cuban Missile Crisis was unlike 9/11, which my husband and I actually witnessed from Newark Airport. As a result of the attack, we were hastily evacuated from the airport. Parked on the empty highway outside the airport, we watched the towers fall. It was horrific. But comparing these two traumatic events, I was much more frightened during the Cuban Missile Crisis. During those days of waiting, the tension mounted while the world watched to see what Russia would do and how the U.S. would respond. Things moved much more slowly in 1960. 9/11 came out of the blue, not preceded by warning signs. Unfortunately as a result of 9/11, terrorism is once again building fear in our nation. But thankfully it is not to the level felt in October 1960.