Credit: MPI/Archive Photos/Getty Images Gertrude Elaine Picker

Historical Insights The Cuban Missile Crisis

The missiles in Cuba were a “clandestine, reckless, and provocative threat to world peace,” declared U.S. President John F. Kennedy in his televised speech. Though he publicly took a hardline, Kennedy wanted to avoid nuclear war at all costs. 1962, USA. Credit: MPI/Archive Photos/Getty Images

The Cuban Missile Crisis

During the 13-day standoff with the Soviet Union in October 1962, Americans prepared for a nuclear doomsday.

Gertrude Elaine Picker lived in Salina, Kansas during the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis when the nation waited with bated breath as the world’s superpowers narrowly avoided nuclear war.


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{{count}} of your family members lived in the United States during the 13-day standoff with the Soviet Union over nuclear weapons in Cuba.

During a Soviet-American nuclear standoff in October 1962, the nation held its breath as the world teetered on the brink of total annihilation. U.S. spy planes discovered that the Soviets had secretly delivered nuclear missiles to Cuba, located just 90 miles off Florida’s coast. U.S. President John F. Kennedy responded by establishing a blockade to prevent the delivery of more nuclear warheads and on October 22, he went public with the unfolding crisis, announcing the startling discovery of Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMDs). Americans immediately prepared for their impending doom, struck with fear after the President’s announcement. During the 13-day stalemate known as the Cuban Missile Crisis, President Kennedy and Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev battled it out for the Earth’s future. In the end, the Soviet Union agreed to dismantle the nuclear missiles and in exchange, the United States promised never to invade Cuba again.