Cold War in our Backyard

During the Cold War Era, there was more build-up of defense rather than fighting. Throughout the Nuclear Arms Race, there was never a full attack but with the constant testing, there was always a drive to have better and more advanced nuclear power than the other countries. In 1957 the space race was initiated. The Soviets launched Sputnik and one month later launched Sputnik 2 which carried a dog into outer space. Four years later in 1961, the Soviets launched the first manned spaceship into orbit, and 5 years after they landed an unmanned vehicle on the moon. The US was farther behind than the Soviets. In 1967, Apollo 1 had an attempted launch but blew into flames before making it too far.  Two years later Apollo 2 launched into space with Neil Armstrong, making this ride a success having the first man on the moon. Overall in the space race, four hundred thousand people were employed, twenty thousand companies were included and twenty-five billion dollars was spent. 

The Minutemen Missiles were perfect for the economy during this time. South Dakota had recently developed the I-90 which made it easier to transport from one part of the state to the other. South Dakota also has land that can hold hundreds of missiles. Having the missiles inland causes them to be away from the coast and country borders. These missiles were cheaper to make and maintain. It didn’t take long to assemble and they didn’t have to have as much surveillance and security. This location didn’t lead to too many questions from the public either. As the missiles were below ground, they were not visible. After a while, the locals didn’t mind having the airmen around. They were seen as locals and even married some women from the towns. They helped out where they could and kept to themselves without bothering the farmers too much (sometimes they forgot to close the gates and let the cattle out). Throughout the cold war, there was money going into the defense budget in correlation to President Dwight Eisenhower’s military-industrial complex. 

In 2001, there was only one missile silo still standing. This silo was marked as a historic site by the National Park Services. The silos were a part of history and therefore should be acknowledged as a historical landmark. I believe that any event or something that helped give a story to a landmark should have the chance to embrace the history that it holds. 

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