With the commencement of the quarantine on October 24, 1962, American fears of the Soviet communists were at an all time high, and much of the public believed that the quarantine would result in World War III. Famed news icon, Walter Cronkite was even superstitious of the blockade of Cuba, and he warned Americans to pack their bags and flee to their nearest fallout shelter. Though people were skeptical of President Kennedy and his decision to place quarantine on Cuba, surprisingly, it was a huge success for the United States as only one ship, Bucharest, was allowed through because it was an oil carrier. When it was reported that the Soviet ships had stopped dead in their paths, according to a website named Thinkexist.com, Secretary of State, Dean Rusk, was ecstatic and proudly exclaimed, “We’re eyeball to eyeball and I think the other fellow just blinked” (“Dean Rusk quotes,” par. 1). On the brink of nuclear war, Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev was intimidated by the potential effects of barging through the quarantine and lost his first battle with the United States. In response to Khrushchev’s retreat, President Kennedy was relieved, for the time being, In fact, Khrushchev, in the document named A Chronology of Events by George Washington University, even proposed to President Kennedy a summit to “discuss how to end the conflict and remove the threat of the unleashing of a thermonuclear war” (“A Chronology of Events,” par. 87). Though some tensions were eased for a few moments, under the direction of the JCS, the Strategic Air Command, or SAC, raised the alertness of the nation by increasing the DEFCON level to 2, the highest it had been in the history of the United States. Again, the United States was getting much closer to a full-scale nuclear war with the Soviets, and the American public demanded answers to their hundreds of questions.
Blog Date: May 7, 2011
Historical Date: October 24, 1962