Damn You, JFK
By Charles R. Testrake
This story was my attempt to show the effects a nuclear war would have had, but on a personally level. The character of Daisy was inspired by President Lyndon Johnson’s controversial 1964 campaign ad, which death of a little girl picking daisies.
November 22, 1963
"Daddy, how did the nuclear war begin?" asked the little girl. Her name was Daisy. She had blond hair and blue eyes. She was seven years old.
Henry Manor stared down at his daughter and held her hand. She was improving he thought. Three months before she had disobeyed his instructions and left the shelter, when his back was turned. Daisy said that she had been goaded into doing so by the older children. She told her father that she and the older children ran and played in the meadow, under the sun they had not seen in almost a year. They had had so much fun she said. Then their skin began to itch. They scratched it and continued playing. Then their skin began to burn. They cried and ran back to the shelter. Over the next several days their skin grew worse. It developed dark and puffy patches. The doctors said it was the effects of ionized radiation in the atmosphere, otherwise known as beta burns. The children became violently ill and all of them died, except for Daisy. She was a fighter her father thought. She would survive.
"That is a long story, sweetheart," said Henry.
"I’m not going anywhere, Daddy," said Daisy. She had been confined to her bed for the last three months.
"I was working for President Kennedy," he said.
"You were his bodyguard!" she said.
"Yes, we called ourselves the United States Secret Service," he said.
"Oh!" she replied.
"Well anyway in fall of last year, the Soviet Union began arming Cuba with nuclear missiles. I was there the day President Kennedy found out about it."
"‘Can you believe it, Henry?’ he said to me. ‘We have to find a way of removing those missiles.’"
"Over the next several days, I stood in the back of the room as the President and his advisors discussed various responses to the crisis. The debate seemed to center around two options, either a tactical airstrike to destroy the missiles, or naval blockade of the island of Cuba. In end the President chose the blockade."
"The problem of course with the blockage was that while it did prevent the Soviet Union from bring in any more missiles, it could do nothing about the missiles that were already there. Several more days passed without any word from the Soviets. The President and his Generals became preparing for airstrikes. They had ordered increased U-2 spy flights over Cuba."
"On the evening of the eleventh day of the crisis, the President received a personal communiqué from the Soviet leader, Nikita Khrushchev. Khrushchev stated that he would remove the missiles from Cuba if the United States publicly promised never to invade that island nation. The President breathed a sigh of relief and went to bed. He slept soundly for the first time in days."
"Early the next morning, Bobby Kennedy ordered me to awaken his brother. "‘Mr. President," I said. "They need you immediately in the Communications Room.’"
"When the President got there, he discovered that a new communiqué had just arrived from the Soviets. It stated that they would only remove the missiles from Cuba, if the United States removed it nuclear missiles from Turkey and promised never to invade Cuba. The President became enraged and slammed fist down on the table."
"Throughout the morning, the President and his advisors discussed what the U.S. response should be to the revised Soviet proposal. Shortly after twelve o’clock, a young Air Force Officer entered the room. He passed right by me and approached the Air Force Chief of Staff, General Curtis LeMay. He handed the General a note. LeMay read it."
"‘Mr. President,’ said LeMay. ‘The Cubans have shot down one of our U-2 planes. The pilot is missing.’"
"The President was silent for a moment and then said; ‘What was his name.’"
"‘Major Rudolf Anderson,’ said the General. ‘Sir, we cannot dither around any longer. We have to take out those missiles now, before it is too late.’"
"‘General LeMay,’ said the President. ‘Wipe those mother fucking missiles off the face of the planet.’"
"‘Yes, Sir!’ said LeMay."
"The war began that night and; well you know what happened next," Henry said.
Daisy nodded and then she began to shake. Just little bit at first, but her convolutions became more violent. Henry wrapped his arms around his daughter. Radiation poisoning, nothing else to be done or least the doctors said. Daisy stopped shaking.
"It’s over, honey!" said Henry. "It’s over!" Daisy did not respond.
"Honey?" said Henry! Daisy was limp and her eyes were closed. "Daisy!" Henry screamed. "Daisy!" He immediately began performing chest compressions and mouth-to-mouth resuscitation on his daughter. "Help!" he screamed between breaths. "Help!" But nobody came. After about twenty minutes, Henry gave up. His daughter was dead.
"Damn you, JFK!" Henry screamed to the heavens. "Damn you!"
President Kennedy did not give General LeMay permission to commence airstrikes after Major Anderson’s plane was shot down. That evening he sent his brother to negotiate with the Soviet Ambassador, Anatoly Dobrynin. In a closed door meeting at the Department of Justice, Robert Kennedy accepted the provisions of the second Soviet communiqué, with two stipulations. The U.S. missiles would only be remove its missiles from Turkey in six months time, and that if the Soviet made public this arrangement, the deal would be negated. Dobrynin communicated these terms to Moscow. The follow morning Moscow Radio announced that the Soviet nuclear missiles would be removed from Cuba. Daisy is now 52-years old.