Archive for Saturday, May 4, 2013

Letter: Missile message

May 4, 2013


To the editor:

I read that the “rocket” in Centennial Park is getting a new coat of paint. Perhaps many Lawrencians don’t know that this actually is the shell of a Polaris missile, a true weapon of mass destruction. The missile was donated to the city in October 1964 by the Lawrence Navy League. It somehow was intended to honor those who served in the U.S. military during the Cold War. In 2011, the Kansas Cosmosphere asked us to donate the missile to them, but the City Commission rejected the request.  

These submarine-based nuclear missiles were deployed from 1960 to 1974. The nuclear warheads ranged in power from 600 to 1,200 kilotons. By contrast, the atomic bomb we dropped on Hiroshima in 1945 was equivalent to 13 to 18 kilotons of TNT.  That bomb thoroughly destroyed an area of the city about two miles in diameter. There never was an exact count of the number of people killed initially or later by burns, injuries and radiation, but 130,000 to 150,000 people had died by the end of the year.

Our “rocket,” then, could have killed well over a million souls outright if delivered to a large city. Are we proud of this? Do we want our children to look at this great white hulk and dream of the possibility of killing a million people in one blow? Nuclear war is too unthinkable, too horrific for us to use it in any way as some sort of misguided patriotic symbol.


Ron Holzwarth 5 years, 1 month ago

"if delivered to a large city."

I have no idea how that could have been done. The Polaris missile was guided by gyroscopes and accelerometers, and after launch, there was no guidance system at all for thousands of miles. Where it landed would have been rather random.

George Lippencott 5 years, 1 month ago

Perhaps not as random as you might think. Think V-2

Brock Masters 5 years, 1 month ago

I hear your point loud and clear and agree but the missile is pretty representative of our country's war mongering policies.

Maybe it needs to serve as a reminder that our country never misses an opportunity to meddle in some other country's internal conflict and is always ready to sacrifice our men and women to nation build.

Despite the lessons we should have learned from Iraq, Afghanistan, Egypt and Libya we have drawn a red line in Syria that now appears to have been cross forcing us to either further engage or look weak.

Lets focus on our own nation building, help the world with humanitarian aid when it is needed and stop fighting meaningless wars that bring about more hatred toward us and no peace or security.

Richard Heckler 5 years, 1 month ago

USA Policy of War Makes the World Irate Toward The USA Government - absolutely

The more the USA government expands the policy of war the more irate the world becomes toward the USA government. Fortunately across the world others know the majority of the USA citizens do not support this policy. However that does not stop the growing disdain for our government.

This policy deserves to be called in, put in the trash hopefully never to be seen again. "Rebuilding America's Defences," openly advocates for total global military domination” (Very dangerous position which threatens OUR freedoms and the nations security).

The WRONG Policy. / /,12271,1312540,00.html / /

Rich Noever 5 years, 1 month ago

Hey Joe, where you goin' with that sword in your hand? To kill some windmills perhaps?

oldbaldguy 5 years, 1 month ago

I was an Air Force brat before I enlisted in the Army. My Dad was aircrew in the Strategic Air Command in the 50s and 60s. I was proud of him than and proud of him now. Regardless of revisionist history there was a real threat from Russia. Guys like my Dad were on the watchtower for us. In later years he told me that several of the missions that he would have flown under the SIOP or single integrated operation plan were one way in to Russia.

Everyone is entitled to their opinion. Leave the Polaris or give it to the Cosmosphere makes no difference to me. There is a reason we have symbols.

George Lippencott 5 years, 1 month ago

Mr. Douglas focuses his ire on an inanimate object that acknowledged that thousands of our fellow citizens (and those of our foe) stood watch over these frightening creations for several generations now.

Perhaps he would be better served in focusing that concern on our elected officials who have been unable over most of my lifetime to find a rational and safe way to eliminate the need for these weapons.

In our modern society it is so easy to lose sight of the real issue and get distracted on silly peripheral matters. The missile is a fact. It acknowledges our human failings. We should not hide from them. We should paint it and make sure we understand what it really represents.

Ken Lassman 5 years, 1 month ago

Thank you. Like so many things in life, this sword is definitely a double edged one. To treat it as one or the other only is to either ignore our brilliance or our failings, either of which we do at our own peril.

George Lippencott 5 years, 1 month ago

How does the song go "Teach your children well..." It is not a play thing but a display and we absolutely should teach our children about it.

Leslie Swearingen 5 years, 1 month ago

I think the rocket should be taken down and destroyed. What happened to Hiroshima and Nagasaki was horrific. We read John Hersey's book about it in school and I was shocked by the intense pain and suffering these people went though.

Yes, I know that our soldiers and airmen fighting in the war also suffered, emotionally as well as physically. But, these were people simply going about there lives at home. Until in one blinding flash all that changed.

Trained soldiers in combat are expecting to shoot at and get shot at in return. They have ways to protect themselves. Civilians do not. Children do not.

Until recently war and destruction was something that happened to the rest of the world, the US was protected by two oceans.

I say, "Mr. Mayor, take that rocket down!"

George Lippencott 5 years, 1 month ago

Really, did you forget the civil war? Almost as many civilian casualties as combat casualties.

Brock Masters 5 years, 1 month ago


I am anti-war and believe it should be avoided but when a country attacks us I believe as strongly that we should defend ourselves with the only goal being to end the attack as quickly as possible with as few causulties to our side as possible.

When a country attacks us we are at war with the country, both military and civilian. Yes, we should try to avoid civilian deaths but if killing civilians means saving US soliders then they too are the enemy and I would rather they die then our men and women.

Keep in mind this is based on us being forced into war to defend ourselves. Not wars like Viet Nam or Iraq where we choose to go to war.

A country that attacks us is our enemy and everyone in that country is our enemy.

jafs 5 years, 1 month ago

I completely disagree.

When our government attacks another country, it is by no means with the unanimous support of our citizens.

Are you and I the enemies of all the nations in which the US has used military power, even if we disagreed with that use?

Brock Masters 5 years, 1 month ago

Yes we are the enemies of the countries we are at war with. Why do you think the terrorist kill or try to kill us?

Do you voice opposition against our military men and women? Do you support them? If you do then yes you are part of the country and the war and thus the enemy.

Would you rather US military men and women die just to avoid killing civilians? I don't. Yes, Id rather civilians not die but when it is a choice between winning the war and more American deaths them I support killing them along with the rest of the country attacking us.

jafs 5 years, 1 month ago

Your thinking is exactly that of terrorists - I'm surprised you see it and continue in that vein.

I oppose much of what our government does with our military, as it seems you do. We are both part of the country, of course.

Yes I'd rather that soldiers die than civilians - soldiers willingly put their lives at risk by being soldiers, and are clearly supportive of the military actions they engage in. Civilians do neither of those things.

But I think it's a bit of a false choice - much of the time it's not necessary for American soldiers to die instead of killing civilians, and of course that sort of activity is something that creates more enemies around the world, thus making us all less safe.

Brock Masters 5 years, 1 month ago

You'd rather American soldiers die than civilians in a country that attacked us says a lot about your loyalty to America and its military.

As far as it being a false choice if you'd bother to read what I wrote you'd see that I said killing civilians should be avoided but if it is a choice between American deaths and civilian deaths then I chose Americans to live and those who attacked us to die.

And yes, terrorist blame all Americans for the actions of their country. They are right - you, me and all other Americans are responsible for our country's actions.

Look at my first post - I don't support our aggressive military policies but guess what I am an American and therefore my country's policies are mine too. I will speak out against them, but you can't separate a loyal American from our country's policies - good or bad.

jafs 5 years, 1 month ago

Yes it does.

I'm not blindly patriotic, or blindly "loyal".

Civilians in a country that attacked us are no more to blame for that attack than you or I are for our military actions with which we disagree, necessarily. It's possible they support the attack, but also possible they don't.

Given our system, in which large minorities have little power, I fail to see how or why you'd conclude that we're all responsible for the actions of the government/military. And, I don't understand your "loyalty" - if you disagree with government policy and actions, why would you want to identify yourself with them?

You combine two things that don't go well together - a fundamental disagreement with aggressive military policies and a personal identification with those policies.

Brock Masters 5 years, 1 month ago

I am not blindly loyal but I am loyal to my country. I understand its strengths and its faults and I disagree with some of its policies, but I stand behind my country

You can try to shift the blame for our countries wrongs but you as an American are equally responsible for the good and bad unless you've denounced your citizenship.

It really isn't hard to understand so let's see if I can break it down for you. I detest war - people die so it should be avoided. We should never engage in war unless we are attacked or the attack is imminent. However, if attacked we should use every means available to us to end the war as quickly as possible and with as few Americans being killed as possible.

Unlike you,if we are faced with the choice of saving American lives by killing enemy civilians I will save the American lives. For example, if weapon caches are located in cities then it is, in my opinion, acceptable to bomb those locations even if some civilians will be killed. If we can surgically bomb the locations so as to limit civilian causulties we must do so.

Charles L. Bloss, Jr. 5 years, 1 month ago

Dropping the bombs on Hiroshima & Nagasaki saved countless American lives, and shortened the war. It was a good move. My concern is the U.S. getting involved in other countries wars. If necessary we should arm rebels, such as those in Syria. We should pull our troops out of other wars, especially Afganistan. We can assist rebels in taking down ruthless dictators, but we should not get involved further in other wars. We cannot not be the sugar daddy and policeman for the world.

Kirk Larson 5 years, 1 month ago

I agree somewhat in principle, but what better use could it be put to than children's play?

Abdu Omar 5 years, 1 month ago

Frank Mertz I couldn't disagree with you more. Leaders, some of them elected and some of them not, are the ones who decide to go to war or not. If a leader (dictator) like Bashar Al Assad dicides to go to war against the US, do we hate all Syrians? Are they all our enemy. I think not. They were not involved in the decision to go to war, so why would we hate them. Killing the civilians in Iraq was a horrible crime. We should never kill civilians. Civilians are not our enemy. Combatant soldiers and the leaders who wanted the war are our enemies and we should always fight them, not civilians.

When we dropped the atomic bomb on Japan, we should have targetted military installations, not civilian populations. The military was against us, we don't know about the civilians.

We should always defend our selves and never accept to be occupied by another entity or country. We are soveriegn people, our freedoms are sacred and we should never be oppressed. Neither should we oppress others or allow our weapons sold or given to another country oppress others. That is against the law of nature.

Brock Masters 5 years, 1 month ago

wounded soldier do not our leaders represent us? If the people stand by and allow their government to attack another nation without revolting against their government then they are the enemy too.

Regardless, we should not target civilians, but if it means Americans dying or civilians dying then I am sorry but I will side with Americans living.

Soldiers don't get to choose which wars are fought - they fight when the government tells them to fight even if it is an unjust war. But we don't have any qualms about killing them do we?

Civilians fund the wars their government fight so yes they are the enemy.

Again, when we fight a war we are at war against the country. If Syria attacks us which is highly unlikely then we would be at war against Syria. Of course, some rebels could fight against the Syrian government and they would be our allies, not our enemies.

Corey Williams 5 years, 1 month ago

"If the people stand by and allow their government to attack another nation without revolting against their government then they are the enemy too."

"Civilians fund the wars their government fight so yes they are the enemy."


Brock Masters 5 years, 1 month ago

Iraq? Yep, exactly. Why do you think so many countries and their people hate not just America but the American people too. We are the enemy because of our country's war mongering and meddling.

What did we accomplish by invading Iraq other than hundreds of thousands do deaths, wasted resources and more hatred toward us? Nothing was accomplished. Iraq posed no imminent threat toward us but we invaded them anyway.

deec 5 years, 1 month ago

If you believe that American citizens live in a sovereign nation, you should speak to the farmers and ranchers along the route of the proposed Keystone pipeline. A foreign private corporation is using eminent domain to steal land from America citizens for a project that hasn't even been approved yet.

oldbaldguy 5 years, 1 month ago

an invasion of the Japanese mainland would have killed more Japanese than the two nucs dropped. the Japanese people were ready to die for their emperor. look at what happen on Saipan and Okinawa. One of my uncles was in the 11th Airborne Division, listed to participate in the invasion of the Kanto Plain. Our losses would have been horrendous. Truman made the right decision.

Leslie Swearingen 5 years, 1 month ago

"Nonetheless, in August 1945, when Japan was facing defeat and opinion among the country’s leaders was divided between those advocating surrender and those insisting on a desperate defense of the home islands against an anticipated invasion by the Allies, Hirohito settled the dispute in favour of those urging peace."

Neither the Japanese people nor their emperor were quite as fanatical as some seem to think. Most of the Japanese just wanted the war to be over, they wanted their lives back like people in other countries did, but like other countries there were militant fanatics who sought to influence the leadership.

George Lippencott 5 years, 1 month ago

He did that after we dropped two bombs and the Russians invaded Manchuria. Lets minimize our revisionist history at least until all the participants are long dead.

JohnBrown 5 years, 1 month ago

We definitely need to keep the missile. It serves as a great reminder of where we might have gone.

It also serves as a reminder of the origin of "weapon of mass destruction", a term that has been so re-defined and dumbed-down that the homemade bombs used in Boston are now classified as WMDs. How absurd.

Hopefully, such absurdity may help remind us just how off the track America has gone over the past 12 years: preemptive war, Gitmo, torture, drones, and the so-called Patriot Act, just to name a few.


thewayitis 5 years, 1 month ago

Let's just paint it pink with peace signs and flowers then we can all get along..

Brock Masters 5 years, 1 month ago

A drone aimed at us would be very representative of one of the current threats to Americans.

Irenaku 5 years, 1 month ago

Eh...I always though the rocket was just plain ugly. If for no other reason than this, it should be discarded and perhaps some abstract piece of art by a local artist put in it's place? The history is a bit disturbing, however. Ah well.

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