Editor Emeritus - Ed Wilkinson

In Hawaii, a Lesson Learned About Possibility of War

Bob Golden had a very successful business career as an executive with Prudential. Although he is now retired, he continues to be a major benefactor for diocesan charities. For instance, his support for The Cathedral Club of Brooklyn is evident by his presence each year at the annual fund-raising dinner.

So if Bob Golden wants to enjoy his retirement with an occasional vacation, no one is going to begrudge him. He has been so generous to so many people over the years that he is entitled to enjoy some of his well-earned resources.

It just so happened that he and his spouse, Maureen, decided to recently visit Hawaii and was on the 14th floor of the Westin Moana Surfrider Hotel on Waikiki Beach when the sirens went off last week announcing an imminent incoming missile attack.

“It was scary, and we were pretty fatalistic about it,” said Bob. “The alert said ‘Take shelter.’

“There was no place to go to be safe from a nuclear attack. We turned on the TV to see if there was any news, but there was none. After half an hour, the ‘all clear’ notice came out. Then, the TV news started to report on the incident.”

Officials at the Emergency Notification Center claim that during a shift change, a clerk pushed the wrong button – twice – once to send the message and again to confirm it.

Most people in Hawaii do not believe that, according to Bob Golden. They think the system was hacked. We’ll probably never know for sure.

On the plus side, Bob reports that it was 82 degrees and sunny at the beach – and he’s now better able to appreciate it since he has come face-to-face with an imminent nuclear attack.

I look forward to seeing him at next month’s Cathedral Club Dinner at the Marriott Marquis, where he will be holding court at his table, regaling us with stories about avoiding extinction from the human race.

On his flight to Chile this past weekend, Pope Francis responded to a journalist’s question about nuclear war, saying, “I think we are at the very limit. I am really afraid of this. One accident is enough to precipitate things.”

Shortly after take-off from Rome, Greg Burke, Vatican spokesman, distributed a photo card the pope wished to share with journalists aboard his flight from Rome.

The photo depicted a young Japanese boy shortly after the bombing in Nagasaki, waiting in line, carrying his dead baby brother on his back to the crematorium. On the back of the card, the words “The fruit of war” were written along with Pope Francis’ signature.

Before greeting each of the 70 journalists, the pope said that he found the photo “by chance” and “was very moved when I saw this.”

“I could only write ‘the fruit of war.’ I wanted to print it and give it to you because such an image is more moving than a thousand words,” he said.

Fortunately, the Hawaii incident was not a “Fail-Safe” moment. But it does demonstrate how quickly the mood can change when faced with the horror of war.

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