30 Years Ago Today – “The Day After” opened our eyes forever to our greatest fears


“Sometimes I wonder why are we so blind to fate? Without compassion, there can be no end to hate. No end to sorrow caused by the same endless fears. Why can’t we learn from all we’ve been through, after two thousand years? – Two Thousand Years – Billy Joel

“I know I was born and I know that I’ll die. The in between is mine. I Am Mine” – Eddie Vedder

On November 20, 1983, ABC broadcast a film that would change our lives forever, The Day After. As a young boy, I sat on the end of the couch just a few feet to the right of the 26 inch tube television with my brothers, sister and parents by my side. About 45 minutes into the film and my eyes clenched closed, I could not bear the tragedy I was witnessing. Teachers had spoken lightly about nuclear weapons and the cold war, but the potential elimination of manhood via disintegration and slow painful cancerous effects had never dawned on me at my age until I witnessed it on this screen. Needless to say, I spent the remaining one hour and twenty minutes on my bunk bed under a pillow shaking and crying.

Thirty years later, that film still has an impact on millions around the world. Whether you saw it for the first time as a child or adult, it sent shivers and fears throughout your body. It was a film that remained with you long after the credits ended.

On this day, November 20, I remember a time of:

  • Family – When I was a young boy, together in a room with my parents and siblings sharing a moment that would change our lifetimes.
  • Awakening – It would be years later when I would see the entirety of this film, but the effects it had on me then and continue to have on my now is lasting.
  • Fear and love – Life is about individual moments in time that define and shape us.  30 years ago today, I had one of those moments.
  • Living – It is ironic that a movie about destruction and death could open your eyes to the magic of life.

I am not writing this to change the way you live your life or provide a “This Day in History” fact.  This is my way of sharing a reflection.  Family, happiness, love and peace are values I hold close and this movie was one small piece of what helped shape who I am.

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