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National Days


Missile Crisis NYDNToday marks the 58th anniversary of the highest stakes poker game ever played, one that terrified the entire world on


It was 1962, the height of the Cold War between the United States and the Soviet Union, and American spy planes had recently noticed newly constructed nuclear missile silos in Cuba, 90 miles from the USA. Russian ships were on their way carrying nuclear missiles to fill those silos, and WW2 combat veteran President John F. Kennedy drew a line in the ocean for the approaching Soviet Fleet.

October 22, 1962 began the most nerve-racking 13 days in history, with two nuclear superpowers poised to end civilization if this crisis went badly. Kennedy’s counterpart was also a WW2 veteran, Soviet Premiere Nikita Khrushchev, the guy that murdered his bloodthirsty predecessor Josef Stalin’s henchman Lavrentiy Beria as his first act of office.

Both leader’s noses were already out of joint over the U-2 spy plane incident and the botched Bay of Pigs invasion, and were now on high military alert, one notch below combat status. Kennedy announced his decision to deliver an ultimatum to Khrushchev on live television, and for 13 days while they negotiated, the world freaked out. Fortunately they decided it was in everyone’s best interests to survive, and the USSR agreed to dismantle the Cuban silos while the USA agreed to remove nuclear weapons from Turkey and never invade Cuba. Life went on, but even more irritating.

• Suggested Activities: Remembering we almost blew up the world once.

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