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.


psycho_theclown 11 months, 2 weeks ago

You know folks, we have an opportunity that very few communities have had before them, We could turn that shell into something useful, that can make a difference for the entire world. If we pool all of our resources we can restore that missile to it former glory and become the first American city with a nuclear missile! The next logical step would be to call Kim Jong Un and tell and give him a deadline. Checkmate. Who's with me? Here's your chance to contribute to peace on Earth.

Thanks for the inspiration Joe!


Irenaku 11 months, 2 weeks 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.


Steven Gaudreau 11 months, 2 weeks ago

Maybe we should replace the rocket with a drone.


thewayitis 11 months, 2 weeks ago

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


JohnBrown 11 months, 2 weeks 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.



Leslie Swearingen 11 months, 2 weeks 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.


oldbaldguy 11 months, 2 weeks 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.


Abdu Omar 11 months, 2 weeks 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.


weiser 11 months, 2 weeks ago

ignorance is bliss. I wish I could live in your fantasy land. No worries no cares...kumbaya...


Kirk Larson 11 months, 2 weeks ago

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


Leslie Swearingen 11 months, 2 weeks ago

Oh, and thank you, Joe, for the letter.


Leslie Swearingen 11 months, 2 weeks 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!"


Roland Gunslinger 11 months, 2 weeks ago


I can't think of a better ideal than to turn a weapon of mass destruction into a child's play toy. Too bad we haven't done that more often.


Eybea Opiner 11 months, 2 weeks ago

We have a locomotive on display in a park. The train helped accelerate westward expansion, thus facilitating the displacement of the Indians from their traditional locales. Do we really want that symbol in one of our parks? What kind of message is that to our children?


George Lippencott 11 months, 2 weeks 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.


oldbaldguy 11 months, 2 weeks 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.


Rich Noever 11 months, 2 weeks ago

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


Don Brennaman 11 months, 2 weeks ago

not all history is patriotic. young children only see a mile high rocket but santa claus, the easter bunny and the tooth fairy are acceptable deceptions


Dont_Tread_On_Me 11 months, 2 weeks ago

Do you have nothing better do to than find things to make you upset? By your reasoning, we should tear down every tank, artillery peice, and plane that adorn our county fairgrounds and history museums.


Steven Gaudreau 11 months, 2 weeks ago

Are we proud of this? Yes we are and we should be. If it were not for bombs such as this, you may not have had the liberty of writing your letter.


Richard Heckler 11 months, 2 weeks 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 / /


Brock Masters 11 months, 2 weeks 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.


Ron Holzwarth 11 months, 2 weeks 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.


Benjamin Roberts 11 months, 2 weeks ago

"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?"

Joe - take some time away from your politically correct fantasy world and watch children play. Children dream of being astronauts and flying to the moon or orbiting the earth.

Further, if a child dares to dream of becoming a hero in the United States' military - a hero that may have to do unthinkable acts to protect our nation - then let the children dream. We'll need those young men and women of vision to sustain the greatness this Country was and is.

And, yes, Joe - a "rocket" capable of leveling several square miles and ridding the world of evil people intent on killing our citizens and destroying American values - yes, that is an achievement children can be taught to respect. 1964 or 2013 - kids should be proud of the United States' ability to "speak softly, and carry a big stick."


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