Memoirs, Or Shadows Of What Has Been
By Peter Landry

Chapter Thirty-Four, Birth of Nicolas, 1983

In 1977, George Lucas, a Hollywood film producer, extraordinaire, brought forth "Star Wars"; it was very popular with the film-going crowd. Six years later, the American President sought to duplicate the project by announcing the Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI); the press soon came to name it - "Star Wars". Up to this time, the cold war between the Soviet Union and the United States was prevented from breaking out into a world wide nuclear war by the notion that if war broke out between parties who both possessed nuclear weapons - no one party would win. Thus to this point, 1983, the expression going around was "Mutual Assured Destruction" (MAD). It was thought that President Reagan wanted to get across that MAD was not inevitable. As for the United States, it was going "to use ground-based and space-based systems to protect the United States from attack by strategic nuclear ballistic missiles." By thus proceeding, no nuclear first-strike from Russia would be so successful to prevent the United States to pummel the Soviet Union. (Incidentally, it was at this time that Reagan publicly called the Soviet Union the "evil empire.") All the outward signs were that the United States - no matter the impossibility of actually staging such space systems - was going to do exactly what it said it was going to do. The principal outward sign, was, the setup of a separate office within the Department of Defense to oversee the matter. SDI "was never truly developed or deployed, though certain aspects of SDI research and technologies paved the way for some anti-ballistic missile systems of today." (Wikipedia) President Reagan, in spite of much criticism, persisted; and President Clinton carried on in the same vein. SDI, in time, worked. It worked principally because the United States had the technical expertise; and, it had the money generated by its free-market system. In the following years, talks got under way and a reduction of nuclear weapons, all around, was achieved. In 1991, the dissolution of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics came about, and, did so, because its collectivist planning with the emphasis on military spending, drove it to bankruptcy.

1983 was the year that the Falklands War broke out; it was between Argentina and the United Kingdom. The Falkland Islands lie approximately 300 miles east of the southern part of Argentina. To the Argentinians, the disputed territory was known as the Malvinas. It has long been British territory, together with the south Atlantic islands of South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands located further east, all occupied by British citizens, who, on the whole, wished to remain British. (See map)

The Falklands War was a case of Argentina wanting to take back territory to which it thought it had historical rights. It raided the undefended islands on April 2nd, 1982, and, took the place with ease. The British thought it had its own rights and set out to retake the islands by an amphibious assault. Its large naval and marine force was made up and sent out on its long journey over to the South Atlantic. Before April was out the parties were engaged. "The resulting conflict lasted 74 days and ended with the Argentine surrender on 14 June 1982, which returned the islands to British control. During the conflict, 649 Argentine military personnel, 255 British military personnel and 3 Falkland Islanders died." (Wikipedia) It is to be noted that neither Argentina nor the British "officially declared war and hostilities were almost exclusively limited to the territories under dispute and the local area of the South Atlantic."

The result, in respect of the political situation, of the warring nations after the Falklands War is the same as may be read from the histories of all wars. The people of the losing nation eliminate the war leaders; the leaders of the winning nation go on to glory. The military government in Argentina fell as the people rose up; Margaret Thatcher, the British Prime Minister, won the election that June by a landslide. (Lesson: If you think you are slipping in the polls: go to war with a another country, hopefully one that can be easily whopped.)

Earlier, we briefly reviewed the event, when, President Ronald Reagan announced his Strategic Defense Initiative, or, as the press dubbed it: "Star Wars." Seemingly, as part of this, that September, he announced that a top secret system available only to the United States Defence Department, was to be available for public use. It was the Global Positioning System (GPS). It "is a space-based satellite navigation system that provides location and time information in all weather conditions, anywhere on or near the Earth where there is an unobstructed line of sight to four or more GPS satellites." (Wikipedia) It is easy to see what an advantage that was to military operations; after this date, 1983, GPS became very useful to civil and commercial users. It was freely accessible to anyone with a GPS receiver. The making available of the GPS - maintained by the United States government - was a harbinger to the huge industry that sprung up in ensuing years in regards to personal communication. I think Reagan knew what he was doing. (Time choose Reagan as the Man of the Year for 1983.)

Things were happening in the air, this year. First to mention, was the "Gimli Glider." The Gimli Glider was a Boeing 767-233 jet operated by Air Canada. On 23 July, 1983, while halfway from Ottawa to Edmonton, and far from a commercial airport, she ran out of fuel.

"The crew were able to glide the aircraft safely to an emergency landing at Gimli Industrial Park Airport, a former Royal Canadian Air Force base in Gimli, Manitoba. ... The subsequent investigation revealed company failures and a chain of human errors that combined to defeat built-in safeguards. Fuel loading was miscalculated due to a misunderstanding of the recently adopted metric system which replaced the imperial system." (Wikipedia)

We go from Gliders to Space Ships: On April 4th, the first flight of the Space Shuttle Challenger was launched into space. Oh! Not to be missed. On November 13, the first United States cruise missiles arrive at Greenham Common Airbase in England amid protests from peace campaigners.


June 12, 1982 A rally against nuclear weapons draws 750,000 to New York City's Central Park. Jackson Browne, James Taylor, Bruce Springsteen, and Linda Ronstadt attend. An international convocation at The Cathedral of St. John the Divine features prominent peace activists from around the world and afterward participants march on Fifth Avenue to Central Park for the rally. In the coming year, there were many objectors ready to take to the streets with signs -- including me and my cadre of friends. In respect to the development and use of such weapons; It didn't do much good; one cannot turn back the tides. Images/Ch034/018Florida83.jpg

The Pictures pretty much tell the story of the major events in my personal life during 1983. My daughter, Lisa, married. Louise & I, at some point, went to Florida. Also, this is the year, I believe, that Louise & I, and Maurice & Carol went off to London to celebrate New Years. On September 9th: Nicholas was born. (Have video of visit to Hospital to see Nicholas and Lisa; also have video of "A Day With Nicholas: Playtime, Bath & Bed.")

As for the movies in 1983: The big one was Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi. While there were, especially in the ensuing years, bigger grosses, for Star Wars Episode VI the gross was close to $250,000,000 which one might compare the other two big films of 1983: Terms of Endearment ($190,000,000) and Flashdance ($95,000,000). Star Wars Episode VI was chronologically the sixth film in the Star Wars franchise; the first film in the series was released in 1977. Two of the memorable actors were Harrison Ford and Carrie Fisher. (It seems that Ford went on to further fame and fortune - not so sure about Fisher.) Anyone who had (has) a substantial connection to the Star Wars franchise, particularly George Lucas, writer and executive producer, has made a fortune. To come back to Terms of Endearment and Flashdance: Terms of Endearment starred Shirley MacLaine (never liked her), Debra Winger, Jack Nicholson (one of the best), Jeff Daniels and Danny DeVito (he is a riot); and, Flashdance with Jennifer Beals and Michael Nouri.

As for the songs of 1983, here are the ones, I remember: Every Breath You Take, The Police; Flashdance ... What A Feeling; Beat It, Michael Jackson; Total Eclipse of the Heart, Bonnie Tyler; Africa, Toto; and Gloria, Laura Branigan

[Pictures, One, 1983]
[Pictures, Two, 1983]

NEXT: [Chapter Thirty-Five, Maders Cove, 1984]


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2013 (2019)

Peter Landry