Missile Economy

The Minutemen Missiles in South Dakota are an example of the Cold War economy being based solely on the build up of the military and the industrialization for the military. During the Cold War defense and military spending greatly increased in an attempt to build up weapons and military personnel in case of actual war breaking out between the U.S. and the Soviet Union. This meant that other aspects of the federal budget were greatly lowered, as the focus was on the military. As with the budget, the economy started to revolve around the military as well. The Minutemen Missiles in South Dakota are an example of this as the economy in parts of South Dakota revolved around the military build up. Hundreds of millions of dollars were devoted to the building, implementation, and upkeep of the missiles placed in South Dakota and that money greatly impacted the area. Money was put into South Dakota for the land the missiles took up, for people to move to South Dakota to work on the missiles and possibly be ready to launch them, and even more money was given to communities in return for using community resources. Military money was put in places it had never been before and small town economies were tied completely to the “military-industrial complex”.

I think a silo was preserved as a national historic site with the National Park Service as a reminder for what the state of South Dakota and its communities did in service for their country during the Cold War. The communities in South Dakota were deemed patriots for giving up their land and resources to help protect the U.S. during the Cold War by having the missiles there. The presence of the missiles was something that had never happened in the area before and it completely changed the area. For once these small towns weren’t just small, farming towns, but home to powerful weapons that could change the course of history. The people in these towns felt like they made a difference in a key part of American history, and they wanted the silo preserved as a reminder of what they did and that they are proud of it. 

Learning about the Minutemen Missiles in South Dakota was really interesting. I think the Midwest does get looked over a lot when it comes to U.S. history unless it’s about people traveling through the Midwest to get somewhere else, so hearing about how a state that gets overlooked played an important role in the Cold War was interesting. I have never heard about these missiles either. The article talked about how people were basically pressured into giving up their land and resources by the government for being good citizens and patriots, and that was not surprising. Especially when all the missiles were asked to be removed the government did not care or really consider the environmental impacts of removing everything without looking into it first. If it weren’t for the people speaking out, the government would have done it without a question. 

One thought on “Missile Economy

  1. Taya,
    I think you did a great job at explaining the changes in the economy during this period and how a lot of time, money, and energy were put into building our defense system—including the Minutemen missiles. While there are lots of unfortunate things to focus on with the placement of the Minutemen in South Dakota, it is also good to remember the positive economic effect they had on local cities such as Rapid City. The extra money being pumped into these small areas surely had an effect on the quality of life here. I thought your explanation for the preservation of Delta-9 is definitely accurate and that for many, this place holds a lot of meaning and value for a big part of their past. While it is great to remember the sacrifice that many farmers made for government operations, it is also important to remember the mistakes that were made as you point out in your third paragraph.


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