Public School Air Raid Drills: Do You Remember?

By | December 1, 2017

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Students at a Brooklyn middle school have a 'duck and cover' practice drill in preparation for a nuclear attack; silver print, 1962. From the New York World-Telegram archive. (Photo by GraphicaArtis/Getty Images)

If you went to public school in America in the 1960's, you may remember the mandatory air raid drills conducted in preparation for being bombed by the Soviet Union. Much like a modern-day fire drill or dangerous intruder drill, some sort of siren or warning would sound putting us on notice that danger was imminent... or at least possible. We needed to be prepared!

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“Duck and cover,” was the plan. We were either to get under our school desks, or at the very least, get on our knees and cover/tuck our heads. This simple drill was to effectively prepare and protect us from nuclear weapons. Because practice makes perfect, we were given a handout to study at home to make sure we were sufficiently terrified to leave our homes every day… nightmares would follow. If that wasn’t enough, our parents were glued to the black and white television set to make sure we weren’t going to die before we woke up the next morning!