When I was in grade school, the alarms would begin and, whether we were in instruction or at lunch or recess, we knew what those sirens meant. We would put down whatever was in our hands -- pencils, forks, a softball -- and file into the auditorium. There we would put our heads between our knees, cover our little necks with our forearms and wait for either doomsday or the all clear.
Some little girls would always begin to sob. We never knew whether it was a drill or not until the all clear sounded.
Unlike so many of my classmates, I was never worried. A small voice inside me told me there was no real danger from Soviet missiles and, bolstered by this, I remained aloof, calm.
But the small still voice told me something else. Later, it told me. The danger will come later.
We are no longer children, those of us who lived through the Cuban Missile Crisis and the Red Threat. We have accumulated layers of knowledge, wisdom and, unlike seven year olds unable to quite stifle their terror, we have learned methods to deal with a sense of imminent threat.
Or have we?