The Valley of the Shadow of Death

While I promise to try not to take the Twitter bait put out by Trump every day, today I felt a need to respond to his tweet regarding “the world coming to its’ senses about nukes”.  You see, I grew up in the Valley of the Shadow of Death.  Phoenix, AZ is a 40 square mile valley that used to be completely surrounded by USAF bases.  These bases, being both Tactical Air Command, i.e. fighters and Strategic Air Command, i.e. nuclear and common bombers as well as the missiles in silos on top of a few of the mountain ranges surrounding the Valley, made us a primary target.  Why target Arizona instead of someplace else?  As I said, TAC/SAC bases, silo missiles and the little, added fillip of the consistently dry weather enabled aircraft to get off the ground 98% of the time which was the best alert to air ratio in our services at the time.  Oh, and the foreign pilots that were there to be trained, so you could, conceivably, hit more than one country by striking Phoenix. So I grew up less than 7 miles from a place Russia would bomb first.

This means my “nuclear plan” was useless, though that didn’t stop the schools from educating us on hiding under our desks, which doesn’t work, as well as requiring us to take Civil Defense in the 7th grade.  This was even more useless as it taught us how to “survive” by placing bundles of newspapers against the walls in our nonexistent basements, finding hospitals and medical supplies to ameliorate radiation burns and sickness, grow food and find water that wasn’t  contaminated.  The last two items evoked gales of laughter from the classroom as it is/was a desert landscape with no regularly flowing water sources.

All we had to do was look at the blast map (see below) and we knew that our only real option was to drink heavily, then bend over and kiss our behinds goodbye.  Why so certain?  Because anything inside of a 90-mile radius is dead.  Either immediately or over the next few weeks.  And there is no cure for radiation poisoning.  A real nuclear attack and the attendant burns, sickness, radiation poisoning of that attack would effectively wipe out the entire Phoenix Valley.  And all of this was true before they put in a nuclear power plant on the west side of the Valley near Luke AFB and Gila Bend Testing Range.  For a realistic treatment of what a nuclear attack would do to people subjected only to wind-borne fallout, I suggest the movie, “Testament” from 1983. It can be found here: .

If for nothing else Donald Trump has done, and there are plenty of things he’s done without being President yet, his statements regarding the “needed” increase in our nuclear stockpiles are probably the dumbest ones he’s made so far. Former Presidents from Eisenhower to Obama haven’t found it necessary to build more bombs and have actually been destroying them as per SALT I & II.  The “necessity” becomes harder to vindicate especially if you factor in how many people will die or be irreparably harmed by such an action.  Even before a nuke is fired, it has been shown to have adverse health impacts on uranium miners, technicians in the process’ of making the bombs as well as those who may handle or be assigned to be near the bombs on a daily basis as part of their military service.  With the right security clearance, civilian workers on the bases could be exposed as well.  And we all know how Republicans love to privatize things that should never be privatized.

If you don’t remember the era of “The Bomb”, do yourself a favor and educate yourself on the nuclear history of our United States.  If you do remember, make yourself available as someone who remembers what it was like to live in the shadow of a nuclear holocaust. Then, please use that education to protest even the thought of adding to our nuclear arsenal.  Please, for the sake of the children.  Not one more child should be brought up with the specter of Death hanging over their heads.


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