The Beach Boys were playing on the radio
The Beatles were singing “Love Me Do”
Lolita was playing in the cinemas
In October 1962
Ken Kesey published One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest
John Glenn orbited the Earth
Australia had just won the most gold medals
At the Commonwealth Games in Perth
The boomers were just getting into high school
Dylan first sang “Blowin’ In the Wind”
The US Army had just started their war
Against the Viet Minh
On the day Vasili saved the world

“If I Had A Hammer” was in the Billboard charts
An Air Force jet crashed into the sea
The first Black student had been admitted
To Ole Miss University
Hewlett-Packard sold a Personal Computer
But it wouldn’t really take off for a while
Jackie had just come back from a trip to India
Plunging necklines were the latest summer style
Algeria had just won their independence
Korea was rebuilding from the war
The Russian River had just flooded
A couple of weeks before
On the day Vasili saved the world

The CIA was running Operation Mongoose
Killing Cubans in their factories and streets
The US was making plans for an invasion
Still smarting from the Bay of Pigs defeat
The Soviets had sent missiles to Havana
To protect themselves and their Cuban friends
Then the US Navy blockaded Cuba’s harbors
And there was no telling how this thing would end
Khruschev got on TV to make it very clear
Cuba is a sovereign state
And if our ships are attacked
We will retaliate
On the day Vasili saved the world

Vice Admiral Vasili Arkhipov was standing at his post
On a Soviet Navy submarine
They were on patrol in international waters
One actor in a terrifying scene
They were out of radio contact, deep beneath the water
When the sub began to shake and crack
The Captain said “arm the nuclear torpedoes
We’re under attack”
The Americans were bombing them, but in order to respond
Three officers had to say “go”
Two were in agreement
But for some reason the Vice Admiral said “no”
On the day Vasili saved the world

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Sheet music:

“Vasili” appears on the 2013 Bandcamp album, Into A Prism.

I learned via Noam Chomsky about Vasili Arkhipov, the Soviet military officer who was ultimately responsible for saving the lives of hundreds of millions of people worldwide, in October, 1962, when his submarine was being fired on (“depth charges” are bombs that can destroy ships, among other purposes) and he was the only one of the three officers on board who refused to consent to returning fire with nuclear missiles — which was the official protocol in this instance, as the US leadership knew, partly because Khruschev had just made a very public announcement to this effect.

JFK was essentially trying to start World War 3.  They say he had lots of doubts later about the fact that he had tried to start World War 3.  I should certainly fucking hope so.