With the bombing of Hiroshima in 1945 essentially ending World War 2, American spirits were on the rise as they realized that the fighting was finally over. However in 1949 with the onset of the Cold War between the U.S. and Russia, the new found American optimism began to slowly dwindle away as they became very aware that the Soviets possessed the same nuclear power that was used on Hiroshima. Because both super powers used the threat of nuclear force as a means to avoid direct confrontation, the war became better known as a nuclear arms race and this kept the nation on high alert.
With this lingering and very realistic fear, nearly every aspect of the average American’s life, from small children to adults, was influenced by the threat of nuclear attack. Schools and the media targeted children, teaching them to “duck and cover” in the event of an atomic flash. Communities began to build backyard bomb-shelters and home buyers became more concerned with whether or not houses came with underground bunkers. Government issued pamphlets were also given out, explaining survival techniques and storage preparation that would keep you alive if a nuclear attack were to occur. Radio announcements, newspapers, and films did their part as well to keep people up to date and on edge. The American life seemed to hinge on the phrase, “Alert Today, Alive Tomorrow”.
Due to the widespread panic, American citizens did everything with caution and care and were always aware of the ever present threat. It seemed that living the “American dream” was put on hold during this period as they feared for their safety.