The Therapy Sessions
Monday, May 24, 2004
The Man Who Saved the World Finally Recognized
Sirens blaring, warning lights flashing, computer screens showing nuclear missiles on their way, one man in charge of a red button labeled “START” - that’s start a retaliatory strike — and a roomful of people at their terminals and switchboards waiting for him to push it. Sound like a typical Hollywood Cold War cliffhanger?
It was indeed just like in the movies, says the man who was poised over the red button over twenty years ago, except “in the movies, Hollywood specialists and directors can stretch a little situation into half an hour. In our case, from the time I made the decision to when it was all over, it was five minutes max.”
Stanislav Petrov was a Soviet army officer monitoring the satellite system for signs of a U.S. attack, the year was 1983, and his instructions, if he detected missiles targeting the Soviet Union, were to push the button and launch a counter-offensive.
He didn’t. Minutes later, no missiles came; months later, the frightening data across his monitor was determined to have been a system glitch. Today, the Association of World Citizens is calling him “the forgotten hero of our time,” a title befitting the man whose responsibility had been to start World War III.
From Rick (again)...