The public, post 1945, were very aware of the irrefutable damage nuclear weapons could cause, and a culture of fear surrounded the weapons. This culture of fear came in the form of personal stories; when will the world end? Stories are central to an understanding of the impact the advent nuclear weapons had on society. When President Harry Truman introduced the bomb to the American public, he told a story about atomic energy--that it was the “basic power of the universe,” the source of the sun’s energy, and that this fundamental key to the limitless power hidden in the natural world was specifically given to his country by “God.” As mentioned previously, these “stories” are central to understanding of the impact of nuclear weapons and the affect they had on society. “From the very start of the atomic age, nuclear narratives spilled over into the fantastic: atomic power might lead to an age of limitless energy and abundance, making physical labor unnecessary; it might make war obsolete; it might fill the natural world with unnatural genetic mutants; it might lead to horrifying destruction and the end of the world, and the flash of a bomb might be the last thing you and most other people on the earth would ever see.”
The public was in great fear of nuclear weapons and the ultimate destruction they could cause. Underground bomb shelters were being built with the intention of keeping communists and nuclear weapons at bay. The construction of bomb shelters became a daily activity for most Americans during the late fifties and early sixties. A fallout shelter is a civil defense measure intended to reduce casualties in a nuclear war. Basically, they are designed to allow those inside it to avoid exposure to harmful fallout from a nuclear blast and its likely aftermath of radiation until radioactivity has dropped to a safer level. Nuclear weapons, especially after the war were seen in a paradoxical light; they are used for our “protection”, but also are able to cause disaster with a single button. There of course have been various public awareness advertisements and broadcasts throughout the ages, intended to inform the public about what to do in case of a nuclear attack. A notable one from 1951 is called “Duck and Cover” or “Bert the Turtle Civil Defense Film.” This 9 minute film was periodically shown in schools as the cornerstone of the government’s “duck and cover” public awareness campaign. “According to the United States Library of Congress (which declared the film “historically significant” and inducted it for preservation into the National Film Registry in 2004.) it ‘was seen by millions of schoolchildren in the 1950s.” Another infamous example of Atomic Bomb awareness to the American public was the Lyndon Johnson political campaign ad in 1964. Albeit only being aired once, it was considered a very important factor in Johnson's landslide victory over Barry Goldwater. It can be viewed directly below. As you can see, the ad itself drew attention and remains to be one of the most controversial political advertisements ever made. The American public tried to understand what it really meant to enter the nuclear age, and the reality was clear with these advertisements and the building of bomb shelters.