Washington, D.C. (JFK+50) Fifty-four years ago today, October 6, 1961, a letter from President John F. Kennedy was read at a meeting of state Civil Defense directors here in the Nation's Capital.
In the letter, JFK called upon federal and state governments, along with private industry, to provide "fallout protection for every American as rapidly as possible."
The President also wrote:
"Radioactive fallout.....could account for the major part of the casualties which might result from a thermonuclear attack on an unprotected population."
A "fallout shelter" was designed to protect a group of individuals from the ill effects of radioactive fallout resulting from a nuclear explosion. Radioactive particles condense in rain and fall to earth subjecting anything in their path to radiation.
When JFK's science adviser explained this to President Kennedy on a rainy day in Washington while sitting in the Oval Office, JFK turned to the window and said softly "you mean in the rain out there? The adviser, who had nodded his head in the affirmative, later said JFK just started out the window for a few minutes and looked very sad.