Speer: Recent events chilly reminder of past

Late last month Gov. Rick Snyder signed into law legislation requiring school districts each year to conduct fire, severe weather and “lockdown” drills in their schools.

The legislation requires districts to send the state proof of the drills and sets new standards on how and when the drills are to take place.

At the time I thought of my preschool granddaughter, and her eventually going through these drills at school. That thought evoked two very different emotions – both sadness and a smile. The sadness came from the need to hold “lockdown” drills in this crazy world we find ourselves living in today.

The smile came from a memory, and the thought that at least she wouldn’t have to go through the “bomb drills” or “air raid drills” that I did when in school.

Ultimately, I thought, society hadn’t matured very much as we just substituted one major fear for another in school preparedness drills.

But at least she never will have to worry about the Cold War – or so I thought at the time.

Less than a week later, however, all of us would be reading front page headlines of Russia’s occupation of Ukraine’s Crimean peninsula. Suddenly for Baby Boomers like myself and those older, Cold War memories came flooding back into our homes.

Do you, like me, wonder where this world is headed? Or, is it really all that different at all?

Fear of the unknown is just as real, whether it be from an external source like the Cold War Russian bear on the other side of the world or an internal threat from a fellow student within the same school building. Fear is fear.

And, in a world where a huge commercial jet can just disappear off radar screens, it seems that just about anything is possible these days.

I grew up as a student in an era of nuclear attack drills, public Civil Defense shelters and backyard bomb bunkers. Students then were experts of the “duck and cover” drill taught at every school.

At the time I didn’t give it much thought. Today I find it chilling.

I, like you, don’t know how the Ukraine situation ultimately will end. But I know this – I don’t want to return to that “Cold War mentality” in the world, and I certainly don’t want my grandchildren to ever have to experience that.

When the Berlin Wall came down we all celebrated. At last, that old mentality was able to be buried.

Or so I thought.

I really don’t want to see it take root and germinate again. I don’t want to see a new generation of students living in fear of a nuclear blast and have to become proficient of the “duck and cover” drill. I don’t want to see new walls, new prejudices and new fears spring up across Europe and Asia.

We’ve come too far to return to those days. For the sake of our children and grandchildren we need to end this stare-down now.

Bill Speer can be reached via email at bspeer@thealpenanews.com or by phone at 354-3111 ext. 331. Follow Bill on Twitter @billspeer13. Read his blog, More BS?(Bill Speer) at www.thealpenanews.com.