IN ARIZONA – We who are seniors can well remember that frightful era known as the Cold War. At that time, several Titan intercontinental ballistic missiles armed with nuclear warheads were planted in deep holes in three states and aimed at the Soviet Union as a matter of national defense or, in a worst case scenario, as retaliation. Fortunately, none was ever fired so the world can only speculate what the consequences would have been, which is just as well.
Eighteen of of the 54 missile sites were in Arizona. One has been converted into a museum as a reminder of what might have been; another is now a place of worship.
The Titan Missile Museum, located in Sahuarita, still contains an actual missile, but it has been disarmed. It was removed from the silo, permanently damaged, and left above ground to allow observation by Soviet satellites, all part of the nuclear disarmament agreement. Now the complex is a testimonial to something that never happened. Visitors go down into the former launch site and watch a simulated countdown procedure. Then they can poke around in an area originally designed to start or prevent a nuclear war.
For more information, visit the museum website or call 520-625-7736. And if you do visit, don’t go pushing any buttons. You just never know…
In Catalina, just north of Tucson, a church now sits as a classic example of the biblical reference of beating swords into plowshares and turning spears into pruning hooks. These days, all is peaceful and quiet at Vista de la Montana United Methodist Church complex, where ministers prepare their homilies, kids play on the slides, and staffers hustle about getting things ready for religious ceremonies. There is no sign of the deadly instrument of war that once lurked directly beneath.
After the chill of the Cold War thawed, the missiles were removed and most of the silos were filled with concrete or otherwise destroyed. The site in Catalina was, like several others, sold into private ownership. It had two previous owners before the church acquired it in 1992 for $280,000. Now a white spire rises above the landscape, a colorful labyrinth decorates the grounds, and children run where once a missile stood ready to deliver a nuclear device six times more powerful than the one that devastated Hiroshima, Japan, near the end of World War II.
Fittingly, the church’s motto is: “Once a missile site; now a church with a mission.” And now, missals have replaced missiles.
Those who visit either or both sites can relax and get rid of their nuclear nightmares at any one of the 17 Best Western Internationals located in the immediate area.