In 1983, my family watched a movie on ABC that changed my young perception of the world. That movie was, The Day After. It’s about the United States being hit by a full scale nuclear strike from the Soviet Union and the devastating human fallout. America watched the fictionalized terror on television together. Even before the movie started, one of the actors preps the audience for the science based horror about to be unleashed on our television sets. I was in elementary school at the time and after I watched The Day After, I became petrified of nuclear war, thinking about the aftermath and what the radiation would do to my body. I even wrote a last will and testament, which detailed the “importance” of my dolls, books, and musical ballerina jewelry box, I remember my “will” expressed my love for my family and the world, and that I taped that year’s school picture on it before folding it up into a small rectangle that had a tab, on which I wrote “pull” then put it in my desk drawer. Really, the only thing in my ballerina music box was the ballerina. I wish I had kept that music box and the “will.” Nuclear war, at that time to me, was a background fuzzy thing that I gave little attention to…that is, until I watched, The Day After.

As scary as The Day After was to watch, the scariest part to me was the “warning” that followed the movie which basically said: what you’ve just watched ain’t nothing – a real nuclear attack would be infinitely worse killing every living thing on earth. The movie also included an appeal to world leaders to stop ego trippin’ and threatening humanity with nuclear arms. I say all this because years later, the President of the Soviet Union, Mikhail Gorbachev, would come to the table, meet with Ronald Reagan, and end the Cold War that most Americans were sure would lead to a nuclear war, that would melt the flesh off our bodies, just like The Day After predicted. So, to me Mikhail Gorbachev was the guy who endorsed peace…and pizza, I remember those Pizza Hut commercials too.

“I believe in the cosmos. All of us are linked to the cosmos. So, nature is my god. To me, nature is scared. Trees are my temples and forests are my cathedrals. Being at one with nature.”

Mikhail Gorbachev

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