This week’s story on the bunker below the Gray Building is another fascinating look into our past courtesy of reporter Greg Nesteroff. It’s a great read, but also an opportunity to appreciate just how far we’ve come as a planet over the last 60-plus years.
If you’re a child of the ‘50s, ‘60s, ‘70s or ‘80s, reading this story will likely bring back some rather unpleasant memories. The thought of going to bed at night and not rising because of nuclear annihilation seemed very real to young and old between the years of 1947 and 1991.
The Cold War pitted the United States-led Western Bloc against the USSR-led Eastern Bloc. The rhetoric, amassing of arms and political posturing of those years threatened an extremely dire outcome. In those days it seemed like there was a precariously fine line between diplomacy and total destruction.
Most people in Nelson had no idea a bunker below street level existed to keep key members of the regional community safe in case it all went wrong. Thankfully, today the bunker can be opened to the public as a reminder of that era.
Our world today continues to be plump with conflict. A quick scan of world headlines turns up troubling tension in Egypt, Syria, North Korea, Iran and Nigeria. Certainly hundreds of thousands of people continue to suffer and die because of lust for power, greed and ignorance. In so many places around the world, children go to bed with the same horrifying Cold War thoughts of not waking up the next morning.
World peace is impossible and violence will never vanish. That said, humans do seem able to learn from mistakes of the past. In today’s world, a nuclear war on a massive scale is extremely unlikely and bunkers like those on Vernon Street need only be testaments to generations gone by.
There’s still much work to be done, but reflecting on our history and reminding ourselves of how life used to be, can help make a better future.