I was 11 when Pearl Harbor happened, my generation’s 9/11, and grew up during WW2 and the Cold War. A future reporter, I followed current events carefully. But now, years later, thanks to some excellent TV programs I am learning things we never knew at the time.
PBS/KET’s fine series “Secrets of the Dead” went a bit afield Sunday to air “The Man Who Saved the World”, a not overblown report on a Soviet sub commander who, at the height of the Cuban missile crisis, refused to permit a nuclear strike against the US by one of his ships. That surely would have resulted in a US response, and Armageddon.
We didn’t know that then, nor that one nuclear armed sub near our shores never was found by the US. All this came out in bits and pieces a few years ago until PBS fashioned it into a chilling program of ”what if…?”
CBS’s Sixty Minutes” Sunday told us about the “Oskar Schindler” of Viet Nam..a City bank official who rescued 105 Vietnamese employees and family members when Saigon fell. Had they been left behind, most would have probably been executed by the Viet Cong. John Riordan’s story is only now, 40 years later, coming to light. (To City Bank’s credit, it spent a million dollars to resettle the 105 in the US where most have become prosperous citizens.)
Also Sunday, the finest news program on the air, CBS’s Sunday Morning
aired a report on the Zapruder film and the man who shot it. That 8mm home movie is the only film known that totally catches the events in Dealy Plaza when JFK was assassinated in Dallas. I had seen that film once before, shown to a small group of journalists at a professional meeting. I never expected to see it aired nationally, but there it was..including the infamous frame where Oswald’s second shot explodes the president’s head. It passes so quickly you scarcely realize what you have just seen.
Next month we will observe the 50th anniversary of that tragic day. Some preliminary work is being done to have it commemorated on the UK campus…where Kennedy had made major remarks during his Kentucky campaign. (He didn’t carry Kentucky in case you have forgotten, but that was our fault.)
Not remembering history is our “fault” also..but we must always leave open the possibility that new facts, new information will turn up..as the PBS & CBS news programs have shown, to make us reassess what we think we “know” about history.
For, as several learned men have pointed out..”those who will not profit from the lessons of history are condemned to relive it.”
I'm just sayin'...