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Ketchikan residents above a certain age can recall the dawn of atomic weaponry, the first nuclear arms race and learning to live under the cloud of potential mutually assured destruction.
The awareness that annihilation on a vast scale was possible — and could occur with little warning — deeply affected the first generation of the nuclear age.
Still, that first generation managed to avoid nuclear conflict from the end of World War II to the present day, despite the proliferation of nuclear weapon and occurrence of many terrible armed conflicts.
Over time, the thought that nuclear weaponry could be used felt so unlikely as to be nearly impossible.
North Korea’s acquisition of nuclear weapon and missile capability sufficient to strike the United States is reigniting the old fears that someone, somewhere, really would launch a nuclear attack.
The concern is real enough that one state has begun to work to reinstate an attack warning system that hasn’t been tested since the 1980s, according to news reports.
That state is Hawaii, which is about 20 minutes away from North Korea by intercontinental ballistic missile. In addition to dusting off its attack warning system, Hawaii is augmenting its existing emergency plans to include responses to nuclear attack and to encourage its citizens to think in that direction, too.
However sad it is to again be pondering the unthinkable, we believe Hawaii has started in the right direction.
Alaska would do well to head in the same route, if our existing plans and education efforts don’t already cover the topic well.