In Cold War LA, Nuclear Missiles Starred In Veterans Day Parades

In Cold War LA, Nuclear Missiles Starred in Veterans Day Parades

That's some serious military hardware parading down city streets, but, no, this isn't Moscow's Red Square -- it's Long Beach, California.

Coming only a month after the Soviet Union's successful Sputnik demonstration, Long Beach's 11 November 1957 Veterans Day parade touted US missile technology. One truck showcased a Nike anti-aircraft missile. Another displayed a Regulus cruise missile from the Long Beach Naval Shipyard. A banner proclaimed the weapon -- typically armed with a nuclear warhead -- as a "Defender of Peace". Meanwhile, Dorene Porter of the Long Beach Junior Chamber of Commerce shared a convertible with an elaborate tin-foil prop said to be a captured Soviet satellite. In all, the procession consisted of 129 separate units and lasted two and a half hours.

Long Beach's may have been a particularly martial affair, but other Southland communities also emphasised aerospace technology in their Veterans Day events that year. Missiles rolled down the streets of Downey, Bell and Burbank -- a curious image for a holiday that originally celebrated the declaration of peace at the end of the world's first "Great War".

In Cold War LA, Nuclear Missiles Starred in Veterans Day Parades
In Cold War LA, Nuclear Missiles Starred in Veterans Day Parades
In Cold War LA, Nuclear Missiles Starred in Veterans Day Parades

Pictures: USC Libraries -- Los Angeles Examiner Collection