The Minutemen were missile sites that had been place across the lesser-populated states within the US. Some of the states include North and South Dakota, Montana, Wyoming, and Nebraska. The location for these sites had been bought from either willing or pressured [into selling] landowners in the local area. These sites were built underground.
The question is “how are these missile sights an example of the cold war economy?” According to Gretchen Heefner’s “Missiles and Memory: Dismantling of South Dakota’s Cold War,” the construction and simple existence of the sites would boost local economy. Heefner states that the missile program would to provide the areas with “real estate business, labor groups” and that “the missile program. . . [would lead to] vast economic benefits for [South Dakotas’] West River region.” To more directly answer the question: the missile sites, due to the cold war, brought economic boosts to the region, while causing little to no problems for locals for the 30 years they remained active.
In 1991, the START Treaty l was signed by the United States and Soviet Union. The bottom line of this treaty was to reduce the number of sites and nuclear weapons. Shortly after the Soviet Union and United States came to this agreement, the Airforce had already begun to think about how the memory of these missile sites would be preserved. Heefners mentioned later in her article that Americans tend to memorialize many events, so wanted to memorialize these sites wasn’t surprising. But why would the Air Force want to collaborate with the National Park Service to create this memorial? And why a silo?
The National Park service is a government agency designated many tasks such as managing parks, monuments, and creating historical sites. So of course, the Air Force would partner up with the NPS. I think they decided to go with a missile silo because we would now be able to actually see a bit of the whole ordeal was about. I think they being able to physically see a silo/missile would allow locals who had to deal with this would help them come to a better understanding. In the article, Heefner mentions how some locals felt it was there patriotic duty to house these missiles, and this silo would give them a self of pride, a sort of recognition.
This was a very well written article by Heefner. I liked how she made sure to include how locals/farmers had felt about their land being used, and how the Air Force had made some unfair decisions. I do wish the government had gone with another route when it came to destructing/deactivating the sites. The local would be the ones most affected with the aftermath, not government/Air Force officials. Their concerns with the water tables were more than valid. I did also think it was a bit ridiculous how the land would be offered first to many other gov agencies before previous owners would have the chance to buy it back.
One thought on “Cold War affect’s on South Dakota”
I like that you mentioned how locals may feel a sense of pride and patriotism with the silo being turned into a monument. I thought that the main reason they made the silo into a monument was just for money and to kind of blow by it and ignore all the damage they did in the midwest. But the possibility that the government thinks citizens may find pride that their land was used to protect the U.S. could make sense. Even though many of the locals found it to be very destructive of the land after they decided to scrap the minutemen project.