Fall 1983. I am a junior in high school. It has been a momentous year. Received my driver's license. Got my first varsity letter. Got contact lenses, going on dates for the first time. Scored big on my PSATs, became a pretty serious student. Discovered a love for chemistry that would become a career.

In the news the Cold War has been getting hotter. Tensions with the Soviets are in the news every day. The Soviets shoot down a Korean airliner. Ronald Reagan announces that we will deploy the Pershing II in West Germany, and later in the year announces the Strategic Defense Initiative. It seems like every other issue of Time magazine has an article about nuclear war.

ABC had begun airing commercials for a movie about a nuclear war at some point during the summer. I was fascinated by all things military and of course this would be appointment TV for me. I don't remember if we watched as a family or not, to be honest.

As a military history geek I was fascinated by the early part of the film, where they showed footage of a bomber base, a missile silo, and of the Looking Glass jet where they first see the Russian missiles incoming.

Then the scene showing the citizens of Lawrence, KS looking up and seeing the ICBM trails across the sky as our missiles are launched.

Next, chaos. Sirens going off, cars crashing, people jamming into shelters.

Then a horrifying 5 minute montage as the Soviet warheads detonate. Followed by a series of brutal scenes as society deteriorates.

My reaction? Probably not as shocked as many others watching. I had read a lot about military history and had some understanding of bombed cities, and the devastation that war causes. To be honest I thought that the probability of a nuclear war was pretty low. I could not imagine anyone unleashing that type of destruction. Maybe I was naive but nuclear war just did not register that high on my fear meter.

Later accounts claim everybody was talking about this film but to be honest I don't remember any kids talking about it, nor any teachers at school discussing it in class.

How about you? Did the film affect how you thought about the world? Was it a topic of discussion among your friends or family? Was nuclear war something you thought about a lot? How old were you at the time the film aired?