Important Announcement

We would like to thank our loyal fellow members of the Nike Historical Society for your continued support over the years. We will be closing the Society, including the store, as of March 31, 2024. We have acquired a large repository of Nike technical information. The web site will continue to be available. It has been our pleasure to keep the legacy of the Nike missile's contribution of the successful conclusion to the Cold War.

the Board of Directors
Nike Historical Society


Presenting History at SF-88

An Exploration and Critical Analysis of the Role of Memory in Cold War Historical Interpretation at the Golden Gate National Recreation Area's Nike Missile Site SF-88

By Greg Shine (1998)

Made available on with permission from the author.

The interpretation of our recent past is one of the most controversial aspects of public history. More so than the academic, the public historian is forced to run a gauntlet lined by a myriad of potent partisans in an attempt to emerge unscathed and thereby impart a history free of the bumps and bruises of influence and bias. The public historian employed by the federal government begins to run the gauntlet only after the additional handicap of being hamstrung by issues such as direct public and congressional accountability, an antiquated trickle-down hierarchical organization, and an underpaid, undereducated, partisan, and oftentimes volunteer staff. It should come as no surprise, then, that some federal public history projects, such as the National Air and Space Museum's Enola Gay exhibit, do not survive the gauntlet without major concussions. Are there any federal projects that do emerge with only slight bumps and bruises?

In this paper, I will explore and analyze components of the historical interpretation program at the Golden Gate National Recreation Area's (GGNRA) Nike Missile Site SF-88L to see if the New National Park Service (NPS) History has had any influence on the public history imparted onsite. What is the nature of the Cold War public memory that is established at the Nike site?

In order to begin to answer this question, it is important to first outline some of the recent academic theories on the role of memory in public history. Most historians agree that public memory is always selective and often contested. However, the underlying theories differ dramatically, though they are not polar opposites.

Historians have applied Michel Foucault's theories of the institutional use of power and control to public history and public memory. These historians argue that the nation-state controls the public memory and imposes a nationalistic, patriotic version of history on the public in order to maintain control.1 Several of these historians have applied this theory to the NPS and its role in public history.

In a chapter dedicated to the NPS and its role in creating and maintaining public memory, historian John Bodnar argues that in the 1930s, forces of zealous and belligerent patriotism combined with the nationalism of early New Deal programs and the focus on national unity and service (fostered by the acquisition of battlefields and national monuments) to create a servicewide nationalistic ideology as represented by the national heroic narrative. The NPS ideology, then, was "to describe and celebrate the process of nation building" rather than focus on vernacular interests.2 Likewise, Jon Wiener, historian and contributing editor to The Nation, decried the 1996 NPS designation of Whittaker Chambers' farm as a National Historic Landmark, claiming that institutional conservatives were searching for ways to commemorate the noble cause of Cold War effort. "Today, when American lacks a unifying ideology to replace the cold war struggle, conservatives hope to bring coherence to their cause by enshrining the anticommunist crusade in U.S. history."3

A competing theory is represented by the work of historians such as Raphael Samuel and Michael Kammen. In Theatres of Memory, Samuel theorizes that history and public memory are a social form of knowledge - "the work, in any given instance, of a thousand different hands."4 He recommends a more ethnographic approach, similar to that of the Göttingen school of microhistory, which, instead of "focusing on state theatricals, or the figures of national myth... might find it more profitable to focus on the perceptions of the past which find expression in the discriminations of everyday life."5 Kammen provides many examples that argue that public memories have not been crafted by the nation-state, but have "emerged from the interaction of social groups in a heterogeneous society."6 In Mystic Chords of Memory, he elaborates on this concept, stating that the transmission of memory and tradition "tends to be decentralized, ad hoc, diffuse, and relatively noncoercive - so long as ritualized observances, national symbols, and local customs are not flagrantly violated."7

In direct application to the NPS, Kammen accents the roles of regionalism, ideological populism, bureaucratic opportunism, and individual determination in establishing the NPS as steward of our public memory in the 1930s. He also notes the symbiotic relationship between the NPS and the private sector and partisan groups, noting that NPS officials capitulated often when pressure from these groups was applied, even when it was contrary to agency policy.8

With this basic knowledge of the recent theories surrounding public memory, one can garner additional background by noting two recent examples of contested historical memory of the Cold War. The first and most well-known is the controversy surrounding the Enola Gay exhibit proposed for the National Air and Space Museum in Washington D.C. Centered around the airplane that dropped the first atomic bomb on Japan, the exhibit was designed to explore the creation of the atomic bomb, the decision to use it, its effects on the Japanese people, and the debate surrounding its use. Veterans' groups (including the Air Force Association and the American Legion) led an attack on the draft text of the exhibit as "politically correct" and "anti-American."9 Under pressure from the military, the press, and eventually Congress, the National Air and Space Museum capitulated and canceled the exhibit. As the criticism snowballed, these groups chided and reviled historians, referring to them as intellectual elites attempting to disparage America, and questioning their work as revisionist speculation.10

Another example of contested memory surrounds the proposed $100 million Victims of Communism Memorial Museum authorized by Public Law 103-199 in 1993. Proposed exhibits for this museum include artifacts (such as portions of the Berlin Wall and a cell from the Hanoi Hilton) and a database of as many of the alleged "one hundred million victims of communism" as can presumably be identified. Advocates claim that a memorial to those who perished in the "unprecedented imperial Communist holocaust" is long overdue, and will serve to "correct the amnesia" of "how pathologically evil communism has been," and "why we poured so much blood and treasure into fighting the Cold War."11 Critics, including the aforementioned Jon Wiener, claim that the proposed Museum, like the NHL status of the Chambers' farm, is a ploy by conservatives to paint our Cold War efforts as noble and just.12

The importance of the relationship between the study of memory and public history has been well documented in the three and a half years following the cancellation of the Enola Gay exhibit. This controversy brought the challenges of public history, the non-academic promulgation of history, into public focus. For the first time, a large segment of our population learned of the process through which interpretive media such as displays, signs, informational brochures, and public programs are designed, produced, and exhibited. Judging by the rash of publications dedicated to the controversy, it can be surmised that academia also was highly concerned. However, as late as 1996, historians continued to lament the lack of an exchange of ideas between scholarship on memory and the federal practice of public history.13 Why were public historians in the federal government viewed as out of touch? Were federal organizations such as the National Air and Space Museum and the NPS making any effort to incorporate current trends in academia? An examination of the NPS methods of creating and interpreting

In examining NPS documents, it is clear that, on a servicewide level, the study of memory is an integral component of the New NPS History. The NPS, a bureau of the federal government managed under the executive branch by the Department of Interior, is mandated to protect and preserve many sites and materials integral to our nation's natural and cultural heritage. In 1991, at the 75th Anniversary Symposium "Our National Parks: Challenges and Strategies for the 21st Century," the NPS reviewed its modus operandi and critically revisited the means through which it sought to meet its responsibilities. Colloquially referred to as the Vail Agenda, the assembled experts took to task the NPS thematic framework for history, recognizing that ethnic heritage and national culture are not mutually exclusive, and stating that the "idea that a single 'Truth' exists regarding historical and environmental events has been critically challenged."14 Specifically, the Vail Agenda recommended that the NPS encourage its staff to better interpret controversial events and sites and incorporate multiple points of view into interpretive programs by implementing the following four principles:

1. The examination of controversial events should be on a site-by-site basis. Methods might include local conferences, public hearings, and experimental interpretive programs.
2 Participants should include both mainstream and radical historians, natural scientists, public educators, park superintendents, and field interpreters.
3. The consequences of revisionist history and public controversy over environmental issues should be thoughtfully considered.
4. This ongoing activity should result in the preparation of a policy statement, flexible guidelines, and useful training materials.15

As a result of this symposium (and in response to Congressional mandate), the NPS in 1993 convened a workshop cosponsored by the Organization of American Historians (OAH) and the National Coordinating Committee for the Promotion of History (NCCPH) and supported by the American Historical Association (AHA). Participants included Page Miller from the NCCPH as project director, fifteen consulting scholars, twelve NPS staff, two advisors, and one observer from the House Subcommittee on National Parks, Forests, and Public Lands. This symposium set out to revise the NPS Thematic Framework for interpreting the nation's history. In a conscious effort to incorporate the work of academic historians and place the NPS interpretive efforts within a broader comparative framework than previously provided for, the symposium identified eight new themes for NPS historical interpretation: Peopling Places, Creating Social Institutions and Movements, Expressing Cultural Values, Shaping the Political Landscape, Transforming the Environment, Developing the American Economy, Expanding Science and Technology, and the Changing Role of the U.S. in the World. An overlapping circle represented each of these themes, with each circle embracing an inner circle of pre-history and history. Though not represented in the graphic on the cover and in the text, the three concepts of people, time, and place cut across all categories.16 Shortly after publication in 1996, the NPS distributed copies of this text to employees responsible for historical interpretation.

In 1994, a humanities subcommittee of the National Park System Advisory Board, created in response to a request from NPS Director Roger Kennedy, published Humanities and the National Parks: Adapting to Change. This document recommended strengthening of the NPS history program - especially the research and scholarship components - and strengthening of ties with academic historians.17 These documents, and the recommendations contained therein, comprised the New NPS History.

At the GGNRA, the New NPS History is being incorporated into interpretive operations by several interpretive planners and specialists, spearheaded by Brett Bankie, GGNRA Interpretive Media Specialist. In the 1998 working draft Long Range Interpretive Plan for The Golden Gate National Parks, Bankie helped develop the site's proposed interpretive themes, resource significance, existing conditions, desired futures, and implementation strategies in accordance with the principles of the New NPS History. Four of the five interpretive themes stress the connection of the site to the bigger coastal defense and Cold War picture. For example, the first theme recognizes that the "Nike site is a symbol of the political, military, and social tensions that troubled the nation and the world during the Cold War era."18 The document identifies five desired futures for historical interpretation at the site. Planners hope that visitors to the site will be able to 1) have increased access; 2) receive accurate, up-to-date information regarding programs, activities, hours of operation, safety precautions, and pertinent park regulations; 3) learn about the role of the Nike Missile System in coastal defense, the technological and human aspects of the operation, security procedures, related social and moral issues of the Cold War era, and why the system became obsolete; 4) discover connections with other coastal defense sites throughout the bay Area; and 5) appreciate the efforts and talents of the volunteers who preserve and interpret the site.19

Other recommendations note the necessity of an oral history project to document the knowledge and expertise of the volunteers, the development and implementation of a curriculum based education program for grades 11-12, the limiting of interpretive media to indoor locations or outside the entrance gate, and the development of audio visual programs for an exhibit room and a proposed underground missile bay theatre and classroom. These strategies clearly stress the importance of tying the site to the larger Cold War picture, and specifically recommend that programs and exhibits

place the Nike missiles in the context of the Cold War and present some of the strategic and ethical questions and issues surrounding the prospect of nuclear war. This program could become a springboard for more in depth discussions, and be especially valuable for visiting school groups.20

These strategies clearly reflect the influence of the New NPS History.

In viewing these documents, one is easily able to identify common assumptions and recommendations. But has this major change in thematic focus been incorporated at the individual sites, or is it an unenforced policy kept within the confines of the beltway and the interpretive planning offices? What is the public history that is created on-site? How are NPS interpretive efforts at employing the new framework complicated when applied to topics of recent history, such as the Cold War? The preceding pages represent the context, and these are the questions I have set out to answer.


In the late 1940s, U.S.-Soviet diplomatic relations in no way held the monopoly on disagreement and rivalry. In fact, the U.S. Department of Defense was suffering from inner turmoil. Following the reorganization of the Air Force in 1948, a rivalry developed between the Air Force and Army, and each crafted its own separate programs for air defense, including guided missile systems. The Army worked with Bell Laboratories to develop the Nike Missile system, while the Air Force worked with several different contractors in the development of the BOMARC missile system. Army and Air Force officials feuded openly and in public, with the Army charging as late as 1958 that the Air Force was "planning in World War II terms" with the BOMARC system.21 Eventually, the BOMARC system was phased out, and the Nike Missile system became the most highly deployed system of the time.22

Project Nike was the title of a verbal report presented to the Army by representatives of Bell Laboratories in May 1945, and Nike soon became the name of the missile system. By August 1945, planning had progressed enough for the Army to select the Douglas Aircraft Company to produce the supersonic rocket-powered guided missile, and Bell Laboratories and Western Electric to produce the missile's radar system. By 1953, the defense contractors had produced the Nike Ajax missile, and construction of missile batteries followed across the nation. The Nike Ajax was specifically created to be a third line of defense against attacking Soviet aircraft. Upon launch, a 34 foot long Nike Ajax would travel at speeds up to mach 2.3 in the 70 seconds that it would take to intercept and destroy a Soviet plane a distance of 25 to 30 miles away.23

While the Nike Ajax was being deployed throughout the U.S., the Army was developing a more sophisticated guided missile - the Nike Hercules. With a range of more than 87 miles, a speed in excess of mach 3.5, and the capability of carrying a nuclear warhead, the Hercules was superior to the Nike Ajax and was considered to be better able to combat the perceived threat of Soviet supersonic attack. By 1958, Hercules missiles began replacing Ajax missiles at many sites. The Hercules system was later upgraded to Improved Nike Hercules, and this system remained in operation for over fifteen years. Although a third Nike, the Nike Zeus was in development, it was phased out in 1963. As the U.S. strategic air defense mission shifted from antiaircraft defense to Mutually Assured Destruction (MAD) due to the development of Intercontinental Ballistic Missile (ICBM) systems which eliminated the probability of bomber attacks, the Nike system bordered on obsolescence. By 1973, phase out of Nike Hercules missiles had begun, with all sites ordered closed by September 1976.24

Construction of Nike Missile Site SF-88, in the Marin Headlands north of San Francisco, began in 1954 as a result of a decision by Secretary of the Army Robert T. Stevens to "establish antiaircraft batteries equipped with Nike Guided Missiles."25 The Army selected a gentle drainage ravine near Battery Alexander at Fort Barry as the site of the permanent launching facility (later referred to as SF-88L) and the top of Wolf Ridge at Fort Cronkhite as the radar and computer-laden control site (SF-88C). By mid-1955 construction of the permanent underground missile storage magazines was completed at a cost nearing $1,250,000, and the Nike Ajax missiles were first positioned. By 1959, after extensive renovations costing over $1.7 million, the site was adapted to accommodate the new Nike Hercules missiles. The site, when viewed today, reflects very little change since this 1959 renovation. In 1964, the Army demolished the old barracks area adjacent to SF-88L and rebuilt a permanent administrative area (SF-88A) complete with a mess hall, barracks, offices, and other rooms.26

After nineteen years and ten months of activation, the Army deactivated the site on August 2, 1974. The Golden Gate National Recreation Area (GGNRA), a unit of the NPS, was simultaneously acquiring excess Army land, and the Army proposed the Nike site for transfer, to be "retained as an Historic Memorial to Air Defense - Nike Hercules. Plans are for Army personnel to remain on site to explain and demonstrate NIKE operation until replaced by GGNRA personnel."27 Though the Army planned to turn over to the NPS almost all equipment in addition to the property, the NPS declined the offer, showing interest in the property at the launch and administrative sites only, due to the limited resources of the fledgling park. The Army completed final transfer of SF-88L, SF88-C, and SF-88A to the NPS in early 1976.28

John Martini, the GGNRA's Curator of Military History, recalls his first visit to the site in late 1974. "Nobody knew what to do with this thing," Martini remembered.29 Though there were occasional weekend history walks through the military sites of the Marin Headlands, including the Nike Site, "no maintenance was done -- it was a new park, emphasizing trails, the visitor center, and land acquisition."30 The site received only sporadic attention - maintenance periodically cut down the weeds and on one occasion provided a "lick and a promise paint job - over the rust without any prep work."31 In 1975, a staff member was able to photo-document the site exteriors and interiors. Though the park maintenance employees had attempted to make the site appear more dramatic by hydraulically jacking up a launcher to a 45-degree angle and welding on struts, Martini recalls that by the late 1970s the site was "looking neglected. It was really, really overgrown, and the paint was starting to peel."32

Attention to the site diminished in the early 1980s, resulting in serious damage to the equipment and several mechanical breakdowns. Occasional interpretive walks continued, and other organizations began to tour the area unsupervised. Martini recalls auditing an interpretive program led by employees of the YMCA Point Bonita outdoor education program in 1981: "The leader had the kids sitting in the (missile) pit with the missiles behind, and told them to 'envision a world without these horrible things behind us.'"33

The first volunteer program at the site began around 1986, initiated by NPS employee John Ryan. Members of the Military Vehicle Collectors Club (MVCC), a group primarily interested in the collection and restoration of military jeeps and trucks, began to perform some general maintenance duties such as painting. Though their attendance was sporadic and not well organized, Martini remembers about six or seven members attending, many in Army uniforms, each workday. The NPS did not provide any interpretive training or direction to the volunteers, as the activity was considered more of a site restoration project than a primary interpretive site. An annual open house was held at the site in the late 1980s, and the MVCC members attended. In 1989, several incidents of inappropriate behavior at the open house, including a drunken member in a Colonel's uniform, led to the termination of the relationship with the MVCC. "We severed ties with them," Martini recalled, "after that."34

Following a year without an active volunteer program, Milton B. "Bud" Halsey, Jr., a retired Army Colonel who had been instrumental in the management of the Fort Point and Presidio Historical Association, contacted Martini. Halsey encouraged Martini to become the NPS volunteer manager for a new Nike volunteer program. "By 1992, Bud was at the site full time,"35 Martini stated. "More than any one person, he has been responsible for leading the volunteers on site in the hard and dedicated work of preservation, restoration, and interpretation."36 Presently, Halsey serves as the volunteer Site Manager.

Since the spring of 1997, Park Ranger Cathy Petrick has been the NPS volunteer program coordinator:

Since I've arrived I've relied on Bud and that's a program that's in place. Bud is managing the program. Since I was given the management also of the visitor center and the (Point Bonita) lighthouse programs, and the volunteers associated with those programs, for the first two years I was happy to just let the Nike site function on its own. And it wasn't really until this past winter... a year ago I became more involved."37

Presently, the site has an open house on the first Sunday of each month, and is open to the public on Wednesday afternoons or by appointment. Despite the limited hours of visitation, the site hosts over 20,000 visitors each year. Volunteers have contributed 28,000 hours toward the site's restoration and interpretation in the past two years, and Halsey himself has logged an astonishing 39,000 hours (the equivalent of 18 years) of volunteer work in the park.38

Beginning in October 1998, I began my observation and analysis of the Nike site. Focusing on three major components of interpretive media - the means through which the park's message is imparted to visitors - I began with the site's World Wide Web (WWW) pages, and then visited the site several times and analyzed the site bulletin and interpretive talks presented.

WWW Site

The Nike site boasts its own WWW home page at The home page, titled "The Last Nike Missile Site," consists of a photo of the main gate framed by two copies of the NPS arrowhead insignia. The home page features eight options for the cybervisitor. The first option is a brief site history entitled "The Last Nike Missile Site: SF-88L." Adorned with the insignia of the 51st and 61st Air Defense Artillery, this page gives a four-paragraph introduction to the Nike Ajax and Nike Hercules systems and a site orientation, along with four photos from the site. The second option provides access to ten short (less than 30 second) video clips, courtesy of KTVU-TV's "Our Town" travelogue. The third option features photos of the VIPs in action, along with brief biographical segments outlining the military service of several. Eleven hyperlinks to other Nike-related internet sites are offered by the fourth option, and the fifth option is a Nike Bulletin Board currently under construction and not operational. The sixth option is the guest book, which allows web site viewers to pose questions and share information relating to Nike missiles. A visitor can also contact Halsey directly by clicking on his e-mail address Following a large graphic of the Uncle Sam "I Want You" recruiting poster, the final option allows one to request information about how to become a site volunteer by e-mailing The site is relatively well visited, and the page's counter reported in early October 1998 that the web site had had 44,712 visits since January 1, 1997. The site is attractive, well organized, and well proofed. It is very colorful, and has active and updated links.


The NPS is very methodical about organization of official web sites. In 1996, the NPS web presence was overhauled through a contract with Interactive Bureau, Inc., resulting in the reorganization of all public NPS web publications as Park Net: The National Park Service Place on the Web.39 The ParkNet Publication Handbook is the guideline that includes basic publication standards and procedures for web pages, including the HTML code and categories and intercept script required for each NPS web page. This information is provided expressly to help "NPS authors to use and develop Web presentations and to maintain a common look and feel across ParkNet."40 With this background in mind, one of the most striking features of the site's web page is that it was developed without NPS involvement. It therefore stands in stark contrast to other NPS Web sites. Though the recognizable brown arrowhead - the official NPS icon - frames the home page, there the similarity ends. In fact, though the NPS and the GGNRA web sites have links to this page, the web site is not an official NPS web page. Upon closer look at the address, it is clear that the NPS server is not used. This conflicts with NPS policy, which states that in order to ensure accuracy and accessibility of official information, the "only way our Web visitors can be sure that they are getting official information is by hosting that information on ParkNet servers."41 The site does not include any of the key elements of ParkNet design, including the ParkNet logo linking to the ParkNet home page, the parchment background, the jagged rule line, the NPS running header, the standard fonts for headings, the font size and treatment, the intercept script for links, and the 17 point page template.

The brief historical text in the site's first option , entitled "Site SF-88, " is very general in nature, and provides an adequate introduction to the site. It provides two paragraphs of basic information of the operation and development of the Nike Ajax and Nike Hercules missiles, and two paragraphs outlining the general layout of a missile site. A more appropriate title would be "Nike Guided Missile System" or a similarly general title to reflect the nature of the information - the text does not describe the historical context or layout of SF-88. Four photographs are more helpful. They are presumably photos from SF-88 used to represent examples from the text. Noticeably absent is the introduction or examination of controversial events associated with the site. There is no reference to the Soviet Union or China (whose bombers were the intended recipients of Nike missiles), no reference to the policies that led to the Nike's development and retirement, and no reference to the Cold War. Additionally, perspectives on the Cold War and the arms race that are contrary to the national heroic narrative are noticeably absent - there is no revisionist or alternative perspective to counter the prevailing nationalistic viewpoint. Thus, the history represented in the web site lacks the influence of the New NPS History.

A more detailed analysis of the web site's content can be achieved by applying concepts from deconstruction and language theory to the historical information included on the web site. By reading for what is absent as well as reading for what is present, and by basing our analysis on the premise that the meaning of a written source is dependent on the rules of the format - the structure - as well as the creator, the web site can be analyzed more holistically.

Ostensibly uncontroversial in nature, all statements are authoritatively related, primarily using the active voice. Judging by the text, the volunteers either anticipate a visitor with a general interest of Nike systems and no interest in the historical perspective or context of the systems, or seek to direct the visitor's interest away from these controversial areas. In either case, it is clear that the volunteers have consciously left no room for conflict and ambiguity.

The text stresses that the Nike missile systems were defensive weapons, asserting that the Hercules "was developed to provide the air defense system with an improved weapon to accomplish the task of denying penetration of our defenses."42 However, the text does not place the Ajax or Hercules in the larger Cold War perspective. It fails to describe any similar Soviet defensive equipment or strategy for comparison, any U.S. or Soviet aggressive systems or tactics, the ambiguities of the arms race, or even the potential recipients of the warhead-laden missile beyond conceding that the missiles "provided a deadly weapon for use against formations of aircraft."43 The text, by not offering the larger perspective or the conflicting accounts of aggressive and defensive components of the arms race, commemorates the development of the Nike Ajax and Hercules programs and contributes to a major chapter in the national heroic narrative -- the defense of the American homeland. In addition, by not personalizing (or even recognizing) the Soviet Union or China as the anticipated enemy, the visitor is denied access to the primary tools needed to make a well rounded personal appraisal of the missiles, the site, and the Cold War.

The second option from the home page, "10 short videos of site SF-88", provides a small amount of historical perspective. Selected from a KTVU-TV "Our Town" feature story on the Nike Site narrated by Gary Kauf, the ten clips describe the missile systems, the equipment, the soldiers, and the VIPs of the site. Five of the segments offer information about the soldiers who served at the site, and provide an interesting perspective on the fear and seriousness that cloaked the site during its operation. Of particular interest is the attempt to place the site in historical perspective in the ninth clip entitled "Why they closed - S.A.L.T." Kauf's narration relates that S.A.L.T. "abolished all of these bases... but allowed one, just one, to stand in each country as a reminder of those Cold War years, when we were this close to nuclear annihilation." The video then cuts to a U.S. soldier executing a final countdown, a finger activating a firing mechanism, a missile launch, and an explosion. This clip's perspective is firmly in support of the national heroic narrative, with a purpose to commemorate the site, and, by extension, the U.S. role in the Cold War. Thus, when historical perspective is provided, it is disappointingly partisan.

The site guest book provides an interesting look at who is accessing the web site and what their impressions are. By early October 1998, there were 637 visitors who had signed the guest book - over half of whom were veterans or active duty military. The majority of the comments logged in the guest book are from these military personnel and are queries regarding the location of former comrades, the status of reunion groups, and reminiscences. However, these provide a fascinating perspective of the impact and perceived nature of the web site and the topic. As Roger Stevens noted in the August 1998 guest book, "we need to keep these parts of our past alive and well in order to prevent it from happening again."44 This sentiment is echoed again and again throughout the guest book. "I hope this site stays 'UP' forever so that the soldiers who helped stop a real shooting Nuclear War won't be forgotten (at least as much as they have been now)," recommended Jon C. Rogers, also in August 1998.45 The site, at least in the eyes of those who voiced their sentiments in the guest book, further supports a national heroic narrative of America as the defender of democracy and savior from nuclear disaster. The absence of any historical perspective and the neglect of alternative perceptions of our national stories focuses the cybervisitor on the general "facts" of the site, and denies the opportunity for a dialogue to be opened. However, it is interesting to note that even when faced by this largely nationalistic web site the lack of historical perspective does not go unnoticed. Take for example Tom O'Brien's contribution to the guest book: "My family visited the area this past summer. The boys had a great time. They had a ton of questions on why, who were the bad guys, etc."46 Unfortunately, the Nike Missile Site's web page leaves the O'Briens' broader questions unanswered.

Site Bulletin

Upon entrance, I was handed a one-page 8.5" x 11" photocopied document entitled Self-Guided Walk for Historic Missile Site SF88L. Immediately following the title on the document is the disclaimer, underlined for emphasis, "(t)he missiles you see are inert and cannot be fired."47 The document consists of a hand drawn three dimensional site map with ten numbers corresponding to short feature descriptions for the sentry post, launch control trailer, missile test and assembly building, generator building, Nike Ajax assembly and fueling area and Nike Hercules assembly area and warhead building, control area, sentry post, launcher area, underground storage magazines, and kennel area. Since there are not regular guided tours of the site, this pamphlet is the primary means of directing visitors.


While it does provide enough general information to enhance an English-reading visitor's presence, the pamphlet noticeably lacks the NPS standardized format. This is due, in part, to the lack of NPS involvement in the bulletin's design, content, or production. All NPS site bulletins are required to follow a "standardized graphic design system that reinforces an institutional identity for the NPS" and helps the organization of information.48 This system, called unigrid, is most easily recognized by a broad black band at the top, with the site name highlighted in large white font on a 8.5' x 14' sheet folded vertically accordion style or in half to make a four page document.49 All NPS site bulletins are additionally required to provide accessibility information and safety messages in addition to a map and guide.50 Though the authority for the development of site bulletins has been delegated to each park, the NPS Publications Division of the Harpers Ferry center has made available much helpful information, including the servicewide guidelines for style and usage in their Editorial Style Guide, available in print or online.51 No general site description, acknowledgement of the site's NPS status, or any other identifying introductory information is present.

In analyzing the content of the site bulletin, it is clear that the influence of the New NPS History has yet to be felt, despite the structure mandated by the NPS Publications Division:

National Park Service Publications are meant to evoke the spirit of place and to provoke further exploration of the ideas embodied there. By conveying complex information and concepts in vivid and accessible language and dynamic imagery, these publications link the tangible realities of the national parks with the larger context of intangible ideas that define, influence, and continue to shape us as a nation.52

One concern is the fact that the site bulletin does not fit within the NPS structure and does not place the site in any historical perspective. There is no reference to the purpose of the site, the function of the site, the timeframe in which it existed, or the site's place in the context of the Cold War. The document merely names a physical structure and provides basic technical information. Take, for example, the description of the launcher area. The site bulletin outlines how missiles were moved from the underground storage magazines to the eight above ground launchers in eight technical sentences, yet it fails to provide contextual information in the spirit of the New NPS History. What situation would cause the missiles to be launched? What would be the reaction of personnel to a launch situation? Answers to these questions are noticeably absent, along with the broader questions that may use the perspective of time to rethink the role of the launcher area.

What, then, is the structure that the producers of this document applied? The technical and quantified nature of the site bulletin descriptions provokes the visitors to ask additional quantitative questions, not linking the tangible site to intangible ideas. While waiting to visit the underground storage magazines, visitors are kept in the vicinity of the rope entrance area by a volunteer. Of the three questions that were asked in the five minutes that I waited, all three were asked by visitors with site bulletins in hand, and included questions of rate of missile speed, missile range, and degree of elevation - all presumably provoked in part by the information in the site bulletin.

A look at the power context of the site bulletin can provide further analysis. The functional and technological nature of the information included in the site bulletin reveals much valuable information about the Nike volunteers' perception of what the public wants to hear. In looking at the site bulletin, it is clear that the volunteers were anticipating questions of how many, how far, how fast, and what function. Every sentence of the site bulletin authoritatively tells the visitor that "this is," "this was," "these were," or a similarly crafted statement. Such authoritative language may also intimidate and discourage more in depth questioning. In addition, each statement can be validated easily and without controversy. "The crew inside this launch Control Trailer (LCT) monitored an array of electronic consoles and communication equipment."53 This statement can be confirmed by a visit to the trailer. But are these the questions that they were anticipating, or is this the direction in which they want to guide the questions?

Whether done consciously or subconsciously, by not emphasizing ideas and broader context, the volunteers have focused the visitors' interest on questions that can be answered safely and without controversy, and away from questions challenging (or even recognizing) the ambiguities and contested approaches to the national heroic narrative. For example, one quantifiable question not addressed by the site bulletin is that of cost -- "how much?" The site bulletin is silent on any matters of cost. Was this question inadvertently or purposefully not anticipated? In either case, this question compromises the power context of the bulletin, and too easily leads to the discussion of controversial topics such as defense spending and the financial cost of the Cold War. The site bulletin may provide uncontested information (such as the role of the crew in the launch control trailer), but it fails to provide the reader with the larger context of intangible ideas promoted by the New NPS History.

Presumably, the NPS also noted the need for an improved site bulletin. "It hasn't been printed yet, but it has been revised," offered Park Ranger Cathy Petrick.54 She mentioned that a revised bulletin would be produced in NPS format, and added that "the effort was made to make it more interpretive and to give context to a greater extent because... that's what this one doesn't do."55 In the meantime, the site bulletin created by the volunteers continues to be distributed on site.

Interpretive Talks

During one visit, I followed a group of about thirty Cub Scouts of Troop 58 from San Francisco's Japantown to five of the staffed areas, and listened to the interpretive talks given. The first stop was the launch site. As I waited my turn to descend into the missile pit, volunteer Ron Parshall gave an interpretive talk and answered several questions. He told about the launching process and explained that he was the only site volunteer who had served at SF-88, pointing out that as a volunteer he was staffing the same missile pit to which he had been assigned while in the Army. Parshall briefly explained the missile's operation, and then answered questions. When asked about his feelings concerning the visitors' experience on site, he said that it was nice that the Nike site was located in a park, especially because the Nikes were for defensive purposes. "I don't think that it would be appropriate for a plane with an atomic bomb to be displayed."56

The missile soon began its ascent from the pit, fully loaded with visitors - access to the pit is by riding the missile elevator and holding on to the actual missile for security. The irony did not escape the Cub Scouts -- one commented that these things that "could have blown us up" several decades ago were providing a "cool" and "neat ride."57 A site volunteer and accompanying adults urged the children to "hold on" to the missile for safety and balance while descending.58

Once inside the missile pit, an unidentified site volunteer began a presentation filed with technical jargon about velocities and altitudes. No consideration was given to the younger nature of the audience, and no historical context was given. After returning to the surface, I asked this volunteer what concepts or ideas he would like all of us to take away from our visit to the site. He replied, "I don't know. To see a part of history. The U.S. spent billions of dollars developing these systems in case of attack, and no one ever attacked us."59

We were then directed to the dog handling area - historically, there were vicious guard dogs on duty at all times on site. At the kennel and training area, we were greeted by site volunteer Dwight Minnich, a former dog handler at a different Nike site. He gave a brief introduction about the use of guard dogs on site, and while doing so referred to the Cold War. This was the first verbal acknowledgement of the Cold War, and naturally some Cub Scouts were intrigued. One asked, "What is the Cold War?"60 Minnich was clearly surprised by the question, and replied that "it is a war without fighting."61 He then paused, clearly searching for more information. "Economic loggerheads (pause) and political loggerheads" were then sought as explanations.62 After an additional pregnant pause, Minnich described it as "When we build them but don't shoot them."63 The questioning Cub nodded in assent.

The site has several volunteers providing roving interpretation. They have no fixed station and move in response to visitation patterns. I was approached by site volunteer Al Kellog, who was very eager to be asked and answer questions. Kellog answered each of my questions with detail and in a dramatic fashion - by the time I was ready to observe other aspects of the site, he had attracted a crowd of eight visitors. When asked what ideas he would like site visitors to take away from the site, Kellog gave several examples. Firstly, he felt that the public needs to know how supercritical the situation was for the staff on duty. Everyone was constantly serious and scared, but "scared enough not to fail."64 Stress was incredibly high, and the first sign of "cracking" would send a soldier off for psychological evaluations.65 "I was traumatized. I still cannot play video games or a game of cards," Kellog admitted, because he immediately begins to relive the stress associated with his service at a Nike site in San Rafael.66 "I want folks to understand that it wasn't a game," he exclaims loudly, attracting visitors.67 "The Cold War was a name the politicians used. To me Cold War means 'need to know.' Need to know!"68 Regarding the function of the site, he said that the site is primarily "something to preserve."69 He felt that it is hard to describe "the feelings and attitudes without the site to help evoke the feelings, put the feelings in perspective."70 I asked Kellog if the site volunteers had benefited from any of the materials being released from the archives of the former Soviet Union and he responded in the affirmative, though the information had only supported what he and his colleagues had believed all along -- that the Soviets had received poor training and that their missiles were "crap" in comparison to those of the U.S.71 Since the Nike system itself bordered on obsolescence shortly after its implementation, Kellog's comment seems rather ironic.


The content of the interpretive talks was striking in two ways. The fact that the majority of site volunteers were themselves veterans of Nike sites throughout the U.S. (and de facto primary sources) provided a fascinating and unique personal perspective. However, the lack of historical or alternative perspective was just as absent as from the web site and the site bulletin.

All interpretive talks, whether formally presented to a large number of visitors or individually on an informal basis, were technical and quantified in nature. All talks provided information such as the number of soldiers present on site, the size and speed of missiles, the number of missiles, the time involved in preparing and firing missiles. A noticeable addition was the question of cost - all site volunteers willingly acknowledged the extensive costs of the Nike systems specifically and the arms race in general. However, with the opportunity to discuss alternative perspectives on so ripe a topic, all volunteers toed the line of the national heroic narrative and insisted that such extensive expenditures were justified to confront the threat of the Communism. In each instance, the collapse of the Soviet Union in the late 1980s was given as the example that the Cold War expenditures were justified, and that the U.S. had won the conflict.

A look at the power context of the interpretive talks can also contribute to our analysis. With each interpretive talk, the site volunteers actively controlled the information that was disseminated. When questions were posed that they were unable or unwilling to answer, each site volunteer rerouted the conversation to one of two topics: technical site information or personal Nike site experiences - two areas where the site volunteer held a distinct advantage over the visiting public. With such a power over the audience, the introduction of historical or alternative perspectives would decrease the control of the site volunteers, and the power context of the interpretive talks. Thus, the adoption of the New NPS History could severely impact the perceived authority of the site volunteers, and could question the national heroic narrative that these cold warriors strive to impart.

Additionally, there was again no reference to any specific enemy, though the destructive powers of both the Nike Ajax and the Nike Hercules were described in depth. Though the threat of communism was loosely referred to, there was no mention of who these communists were, leading one Cub Scout to inquire if the Nikes were used to "shoot down the Japanese."72 Also, it is easier to justify the missiles' existence as general defensive instruments than as specifically designed to intercept Soviet and Chinese air attacks - especially when the number of immigrants from both countries has exploded in the United States and, particularly, the San Francisco Bay Area in the 1990s. By not personalizing the enemy, the site volunteers steered questions away from controversial or uncomfortable topics and maintained the power context within the interpretive talk.

Individual personal perspective is one of the most fascinating components of the interpretive talks. Each of the site volunteers was eager to share personal reminiscences of life at a Nike site. Description of the everyday life of a soldier is a popular point of discussion. The site volunteers describe in detail the daily routine at a Nike site, and provide the compelling stories that are such a part of NPS Interpretation at military history sites such as Yorktown, Gettysburg, and Little Big Horn. The only difference is that at the Nike site, the people that are providing the interpretive talks are the actual participants. This provides a level of knowledge that is difficult to obtain through interpretive training courses and historical study, but it also raises the opportunity for bias. Ostensible contradictions were also noted in several interpretive talks. Al Kellog, for example, continuously stressed the seriousness of the situation on site and the lack of any relief to the stress, but in the same conversation gave equal measure to jokes and games that were continuously played by Nike personnel. No attempt was made to reconcile these two themes, though an explanation undoubtedly exists.

The personal component to the interpretive talks is wildly popular. Generally speaking, the public tended to gather to hear personal reminiscences and depart when technical information was given. The site volunteers seem to realize this, and adjust their presentations accordingly - the mark of experienced interpreters. This personal component is successful because it does not compromise the power context of the interpretive talk - very few people have the knowledge base or the inclination to question the personal reminiscence of a cold warrior on his own turf. However, with recent studies on the unreliability of the human memory, coupled with the need of cold warriors to justify their former roles in this post-Cold War age, these entertaining and enlightening stories need to be considered cautiously by the public, and complemented by alternative voices.


It is clear that the New NPS History has not yet been incorporated at the Nike Missile Site. Though the operations of the site are generally well introduced, the aforementioned interpretive media fail to put the site into any historical perspective, and there is very little reference or link to the bigger picture of the Cold War. Controversial topics, such as the reasons for the site's closure, the site's role in the arms race, and the costs of the Cold War are not explored. The work of any academic historians - let alone radical historians or those offering alternative viewpoints - is nonexistant.

But these failings can not be attributed directly to the volunteers. There are fundamental differences in the perceived role and function of the site, and of the public memory created by the site, its volunteers, and the NPS. These differences have been unconsciously supported by the NPS through many years of laissez-faire management. Also, the NPS has failed to consistently provide field-level employees and volunteers with the integral elements of the New NPS History.

Halsey is fully aware that the site represents only one specific element of the Cold War. He views the site as a restoration project, and has "no time for the intricacies" of the work of academic historians and their perceptions of the Cold War.73 "I want visitors to come and draw their own conclusions," Halsey stated, "and appreciate their history the way it was."74 He claims that there is no room for moralizing at the site, and that he would rather spend his time working on hydraulics. According to Halsey, four goals drive the work of the volunteers. The first goal is to stop the rust and restore the equipment. Ensuring accountability for the equipment on site is the second. A third goal is to develop an interpretive program, and the fourth is to train NPS staff for when Halsey and the other volunteers are no longer around.75 When asked if he had benefited from the work of academic historians, Halsey mentioned that, to the contrary, he often provided academic historians with specific site-related information. Since the site is primarily a restoration project, he does not see the need for academia to contribute to the site "unless they want to paint," "I'd let a historian do some painting around here."76

This perception of the site as primarily a restoration project and secondly as an interpretive site is one that has been indirectly supported by the NPS. The volunteers have been largely left to develop their own program with themes, goals, and objectives independent of NPS input and direction, and Halsey is a very organized and effective leader. "He's recruiting, hiring, and training his volunteers, and he has a lot of technical skills," noted Petrick. Halsey frankly notes that the volunteers have not received much support from the NPS. According to him, the NPS has picked up the electric and telephone bills, recently poured concrete and placed a wayside exhibit, but not much else. Because of this, the volunteers have provided the majority of their own supplies in addition to their time. Halsey attributes this in part to the fact that many of the volunteers are veterans of the Nike system and want to share their experiences with the public. "The volunteers represent a different type of preservation ethic," noted Martini, pointing out that the majority of them come from the enlisted ranks of the military and are "more blue collar. Their spit-shined and manicured military tradition is the antithesis of the NPS."77

As a cold warrior, Halsey's direction and individual determination support the national heroic narrative: under his guidance, staff restore, celebrate, and commemorate an air defense system of the Cold War era with which they were integrally involved. This involvement of actual participants is a double-edged sword: on one hand, their interest in restoration and commemoration is driven by a unique vested interest. However, this vested interest does not allow the detachment that, in turn, allows conceptions of the past to be revisited and placed in perspective. This complicates the public memory imparted, and denies it balance. While, at first glance, this may seemingly serve as evidence to the historians who believe that this patriotic public memory is imposed by the government in order to maintain control, further analysis shows this to not be the case. Halsey's program is not institutionally coercive, but is an ad hoc response to a need that is immediate in the eyes of the cold warriors. In an interesting twist on Bodnar's theory, the national heroic narrative at the Nike site is nurtured and fostered by this ad hoc work and not the government, which is clearly seeking to revise the narrative through promotion of the New NPS History. In this way, the public history imparted at the Nike Site more accurately supports Kammen's theory reflected in Mystic Chords of Memory. This is the essence of the public memory created at the site - fascinating but not balanced, ad hoc and not systematic, micro- and not macrocosmic.

However, it is exactly this high level of organization that has kept NPS involvement and support at bay, and has worked against the sharing of information and the integration of the New NPS History into the program. Faced with a site run by a reliable cadre of volunteers, park employees focused efforts on other areas and activities. "In all honesty I really didn't know much about the Nike site until I was motivated by receiving training from Bud," Petrick admitted.78 "You know, here is this interpretive site within our boundaries that none of us have taken the time or have felt motivated to learn much about because it was this whole huge area that was being handled by other people."79 In addition, Halsey has continually stressed historical restoration over historical interpretation. "He is also well grounded in the Park Service method of (historical) interpretation," admitted Petrick. "I don't know to what extent he is incorporating mission or interpretive skills into his training because he seems to de-emphasize it... I think that he doesn't feel that this is the most important thing for his volunteers to learn."80 In the mean time, Petrick and Halsey have developed an ad hoc strategy to develop the Nike volunteer program into a more traditional NPS format, including training in the New NPS History. Since May 1998, Petrick meets with Halsey "on a bi-weekly basis, and then more recently I've started working with his volunteers offering bi-monthly training and coordinating involvement of rangers and interns from the visitor center to go up and help out once a month with the monthly open house."81 Petrick's bi-monthly training sessions for the first year are topics recommended by Halsey, and include fire extinguisher use, lawnmower safety, and equipment skills. "My hidden agenda is to work my way up to interpretive skills, and implementation of the mission, and multiple points of view" - all components of the New NPS History.82

It is questionable whether the NPS staff would have been able to impart the New NPS History in the first place. When asked, Petrick, several other park rangers, and Halsey had not seen the revised thematic framework for history, which had been allegedly distributed to all employees shortly after publication. In addition, the major recommendations of the Vail Agenda and Humanities and the National Parks remain to be applied to the site. "I haven't seen the publication [Thematic Framework]... but multiple points of view is something that is at the same time being stressed in the new 'Interpretive Competencies.' And within that context, I have heard and been encouraged to interpret in this way - to incorporate multiple points of view which would include different perspectives on history," admitted Petrick.83 Recently, interpretive planning documents and efforts have begun to bridge this gap, though it may be several years before the NPS vision for historical interpretation is implemented.

With this background in the New NPS History and the Nike system, and the site observations, what alternative perspectives demonstrate the effective application of the New NPS History to the Cold War context? In an effort to define by example, the critic is obliged to explore and identify credible perspectives.

In the context of the Nike site, we can answer the question by looking at what the public would find most interesting. My observations show that visitors do not find discussion of who was at fault in the Cold War interesting. Overwhelmingly, I observed that visitors wanted to know about the perceived enemy and threat, and about the costs associated with the site. Interpretation delving into the perceived Soviet bomber threat, the site's obsolescence and closure, and the actual costs footed by the U.S. taxpayers for the nuclear program (all key components of the Nike controversy) will help to more holistically relate the Nike story and place it into the broader story of how the Cold War was waged.

The perceived threat of Soviet bombers contributed to and drove development of the Nike missile system. What type of Soviet aircraft did the Army anticipate? What was the Soviet strategic doctrine, and how did it change? Was the Nike system capable of defending against a Soviet offensive? Answers to these and other questions provide compelling alternative perspectives.

Following World War II, the Soviets developed and deployed the Tu-4 Bull bomber. Easily capable of reaching the United States via the North Pole route, the Bull allowed the Soviets a direct means of nuclear attack. At the 1954 May Day parade, the Soviets presented their first bomber capable of striking the U.S. mainland and returning: the Mya-4 Bison. In a visit to Tushino Airport the following year, an American Embassy attaché reported that twice as many Bisons existed than estimated by U.S. intelligence sources. However, recent scholarship points out that the Soviets deceived the U.S. attaché by creating the impression of a much larger force; they presented the same Bisons in multiple flybys, mixed with additional aircraft.84

The perceived Soviet threat intensified in the late 1950s with the introduction of the Tu-20 Bear long-range bomber. Amidst talk of a bomber gap, military intelligence estimated that by 1959 the Soviets would have 600 to 700 strategic long-range bombers in operation. In a recently-translated official Soviet memorandum, "On the Possibility of Reinforcing Cuba by Air," 6 September 1962, an appendix provides detailed specifications of the Tu-95 Bear, Mya-4 Bison, Tu-16 Badger, and IL-28 Beagle long-range bombers, and outlines their individual nuclear capabilities. These aircraft represented the full range of Soviet long-range bomber aircraft in 1962.85

However, recent scholarship based on Soviet documents shows that Soviet strategic doctrine changed in the mid-1950s. The Soviets began to scale down their long-range bomber program and shifted resources toward other projects -- specifically ICBM and IRBM development. The Soviets reasoned that missiles, not bombers, would be the most effective offensive weapons, since missiles were faster and more illusive and expedient.86 On 21 August 1957, the Soviet Union launched the world's first intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM). This and the subsequent launch of Sputnik raised the perceived threat of Soviet attack to a level beyond the capabilities of the Nike system, although it would take almost two decades for the Soviet policy change to affect site SF-88. In 1974, Captain Roy Raat, the commanding officer for Nike site SF-88, explained that "the Department of Defense has decided that there is no longer a serious threat to the continental United States from manned aircraft. The real threat is from intercontinental ballistic missiles, and that job is beyond the capabilities of the Nike Hercules missile."87

In the 1960s, Soviet tactical planning presented the Nike sites with a more direct threat. Soviet strategic strike plans called for suppression of antiaircraft capability, of which the Nike system was a major component. Though the Soviets did not develop any new long range bombers in the late 1960s, they established a new class of Soviet nuclear-powered submarines armed with SS-N-6 Sawfly nuclear missiles. With a range of 1,300 miles, these missiles targeted U.S. coastal strategic areas, including Nike sites, which were powerless to stop the new technology.88 Thus, discussion of the perceived Soviet threat causes one to rethink the issue of Nike obsolescence. Was the Nike system tactically and technologically obsolete by the late 1950s? If it was, why would the Soviets target it? Recent scholarship answers yes to the former question, leaving room for additional discussion of the psychological role of deterrence and the Soviet perception of U.S. defenses.

Discussion of the cost of the Nike missile system is equally provocative. How much did it cost to create SF-88? How much was invested in the Nike program? How much was spent on the U.S. nuclear weapons program during the Cold War era? Answers to these questions provide compelling alternative perspectives.

As previously related, costs of construction for underground missile storage magazines and subsequent renovations at site SF-88 reached almost $3 million.89 From 1962 through 1979, Nike Hercules Battalions cost U.S. taxpayers over $7.04 billion (in 1996 dollars).90 The Department of Defense spent over $331 million (in 1996 dollars) from 1962 through 1971 for Nike targets alone. Funding was not limited to operational programs; the experimental (and later scrapped) Nike Zeus project received over $3.18 billion (in 1996 dollars) in funding from 1962 through 1971.91

A recent study by the Brookings Institute reveals that since 1940, the United States has spent almost $5.5 trillion (in 1996 dollars) on nuclear weapons and weapons-related programs. This amount represents 29% of all military spending and almost 11% of all government expenditure from 1940 through 1996. Factoring in $320 billion in estimated future costs for storage and disposal of toxic and radioactive wastes and $20 billion for dismantling nuclear weapons systems and disposing of surplus nuclear materials, the total incurred costs exceed $5.8 trillion.92

The data's editor, Stephen Schwartz, acutely sums up the interpretive role of this data. In Atomic Audit, he hopes that

once policymakers understand the actual costs of nuclear weapons and the often bureaucratic and arbitrary forces influencing the size and composition of U.S. nuclear forces, they may plan for the future in realistic fashion, free of cold war biases and myths.93

This interesting and highly-desired fiscal information provides the opportunity to open discussion of controversial components of the Cold War and the arms race, and perhaps influence future planning as Schwartz suggests.

Professional Recommendations

My exploration and analysis points to several key recommendations.

1. The GGNRA should begin a more active management of the interpretive operations of the Nike Missile Site, drawing on the strong relationship between Petrick and Halsey.
2. The NPS needs to ensure that copies of the documents comprising the "New NPS History: the Vail Agenda," the Thematic Framework, Humanities and the National Parks, and the working draft of the Long Range Interpretive Plan are made accessible to all interpretive staff and Nike volunteers.
3. In order to present a more holistic public history at the Nike Site, a tactful integration of the long term historical interpretive planning strategies (managed by Bankie) and the field initiatives (begun in May 1998 by Petrick and Halsey) is essential.
4. A symbiotic relationship of sharing resources, knowledge, and ideas should be established and nurtured between Bay Area academic historians and the Nike Missile Site staff and volunteers.

This relationship can be twofold. The Bay Area boasts many academic institutions, with some of the leading Cold War scholars. By establishing links with one or many of these academics, the park can benefit from current scholarship, and can provide a living example and technical information in return. This relationship could take on several different forms - from a "Scholar on Call" to review materials and provide new information from papers and archives, to a more active and regular involvement including regular site visits, training, public programs, and perhaps even the painting that Halsey jokingly recommended.

In addition, the active use of Bay Area graduate students through collegiate internship programs can help the NPS develop specific projects that staffing and funding would not normally permit. For example, San Francisco State University (SFSU) offers classes in archives or historical agency internship. Petrick and Martini are well aware of this opportunity, and have crafted a draft position description for an intern. By contacting the SFSU course coordinator and recrafting their draft to meet the requisites of the class, they will be better apt to attract an interested and qualified graduate student.

Gregory Paynter Shine is a graduate student in U.S. history at San Francisco State University. His interests include public history, local history, and the history of memory. Greg received a Bachelor of Arts degree in U.S. history (cum laude) from Wabash College in 1990. In 1992, he was finally able to answer the gnawing parental question, "What are you going to do with a history degree?" after landing a job as a professional public historian and educator with the National Park Service at Fort Point in San Francisco. Greg worked as a Park Ranger, researching and presenting public history programs throughout the Golden Gate National Recreation Area, before moving fully into park management in 1998. In 1997, Greg co-instructed the upper-division geography course "Management of National Parks and Natural Areas" at SFSU. Greg looks forward to a long career with the National Park Service.


1 David Glassberg, "Public History and the Study of Memory," The Public Historian 18 no. 2 (1996),12.
2 John Bodnar, Remaking America: Public Memory, Commemoration, and Patriotism in the Twentieth Century (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1992),204.
3 Jon Wiener, "Pumpkin Patch Perdu," The Nation (18 November 1996), 6-7.
4 Raphael Samuel, Theatres of Memory: Volume One: Past and Present in Contemporary Culture (London: Verso, 1994),8.
5 Ibid.,17.
6 Michael Kammen, "Public History and the Uses of Memory," The Public Historian 19, no. 2 (1997),51.
7 Michael Kammen, Mystic Chords of Memory: The Transformation of Tradition in American Culture (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1991),14.
8 Ibid., 469-473.
9 Edward T. Linenthal and Tom Engelhardt, History Wars: The Enola Gay and Other Battles for the American Past (New York: Henry Holt and Company, 1996),4.
10 Ibid., 4,135.
11 Jeff Jacoby, "To the Victims of Communism, Lest We Forget," The Boston Globe, 7 December 1995.
12 Wiener, "Pumpkin Patch Perdu,"6.
13 Glassberg, "Public History and the Study of Memory,"8.
14 U.S. Department of the Interior. National Park Service, National Parks for the 21st Century: The Vail Agenda, NPS D-726 (Washington, D.C.: GPO, 1992),88.
15 Ibid.,89.
16 U.S. Department of the Interior. National Park Service, Revision of the National Park Service's Thematic Framework (Washington, D.C.: GPO, 1996) 1-14..
17 Dwight T. Pitcaithley, "The Future of the NPS History Program," Cultural Resource Management 20, no.7 (1997),6.
18 U.S. Department of the Interior, National Park Service, Long Range Interpretive Plan, Golden Gate National Parks, Working Draft, March 1998 (San Francisco: National Park Service, 1998), 42-3.
19 Ibid.,43.
20 Ibid.,44.
21 John A. Martini and Stephen A. Haller, What We Have, We Shall Defend: An Interim History and Preservation Plan for Nike Site SF-88L, Fort Barry, California (San Francisco: U.S. Department of Interior, National Park Service, 1998),7.
22 Ibid., 5-9.
23 Ibid., 11-16.
24 Ibid., 17-18, 54-55.
25 Ibid.,13.
26 Ibid., 67-78,117.
27 Fran M. Roberts, "Memorandum for the Record, Subject: Operations Concise/Outline of Real Estate Actions, Presidio of San Francisco," ADPWE-6, Box 1, Folder 3, PARC, GOGA, 25 February 1974; quoted in Martini and Haller, What We Have, We Shall Defend,,82.
28 Martini and Haller, What We Have, We Shall Defend, 82-3.
29 GGNRA Curator of Military History John Martini, interview by author, 7 November 1998, San Francisco, notes from telephone interview.
30 Ibid.
31 Ibid.
32 Ibid.
33 Ibid.
34 Ibid.
35 Ibid.
36 Martini and Haller, What We Have, We Shall Defend, iii.
37 GGNRA Park Ranger Cathy Petrick, interview by author, 1 November 1998, Marin Headlands Visitor Center, tape recording.
38 GGNRA Volunteer Milton B. "Bud" Halsey, Jr., interview by author, 4 October 1998, Nike Missile Site, notes from interview.
39 U.S. Department of the Interior, National Park Service, ParkNet Publications Handbook; available from http:/; Internet; accessed 13 October,1998.
40 Ibid.
41 Ibid.
42 GGNRA Nike Missile Site Volunteers, Site SF-88; available from; Internet; accessed 11 October1998.
43 Ibid.
44 GGNRA Nike Missile Site Volunteers, Guestbook; available from; Internet; accessed 11 October1998.
45 Ibid.
46 Ibid.
47 GGNRA Nike Missile Site Volunteers, Self-Guided Walk for Historic Nike Missile Site SF88L.
48 U.S. Department of the Interior, National Park Service, NPS Publications: What We Do; available from; Internet; accessed 11 October 1998.
49 U.S. Department of the Interior, National Park Service, NPS Publications: Site Bulletins; available from; Internet; accessed 11 October1998.
50 U.S. Department of the Interior, National Park Service, NPS Publications: What We Do.
51 Ibid.
52 Ibid.
53 GGNRA Nike Missile Site Volunteers, Self-Guided Walk for Historic Nike Missile Site SF88L.
54 Petrick, interview by author.
55 Ibid.
56 Ron Parshall, interview by author, 4 October 1998, Nike Missile Site, notes from interview.
57 Unidentified Cub Scout #1, San Francisco Troop 58, comments noted by author, 4 October 1998, Nike Missile Site, notes from conversation.
58 Unidentified Cub Scout chaperone, San Francisco Troop 58, comments noted by author, 4 October 1998, Nike Missile Site, notes from conversation.
59 Unidentified Nike Missile Site Volunteer, interview by author, 4 October 1998, Nike Missile Site, notes from interview.
60 Unidentified Cub Scout #2, San Francisco Troop 58, comments noted by author, 4 October 1998, Nike Missile Site, notes from conversation.
61 Dwight Minnich, comments noted by author, 4 October 1998, Nike Missile Site, notes from conversation.
62 Ibid.
63 Ibid.
64 Al Kellog, interview by author, 4 October, 1998, Nike Missile Site, notes from interview.
65 Ibid.
66 Ibid.
67 Ibid.
68 Ibid.
69 Ibid.
70 Ibid.
71 Ibid.
72 Unidentified Cub Scout #3, San Francisco Troop 58, comments noted by author, 4 October 1998, Nike Missile Site, notes from conversation.
73 Halsey, Jr., interview by author.
74 Ibid.
75 Ibid.
76 Ibid.
77 Martini, interview by author.
78 Petrick, interview by author.
79 Ibid.
80 Ibid.
81 Ibid.
82 Ibid.
83 Ibid.
84 John Newhouse, War and Peace in the Nuclear Age (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1989),110.
85 R. Malinovsky, "Memorandum: On the Possibility of Reinforcing Cuba by Air," 6 September 1962 (Cold War International History Project).
86 William Burr, "Soviet Cold War Military Strategy: Using Declassified History" (Cold War International History Project).
87 Martini and Haller, What We Have, We Shall Defend, 57. Gaddis, We Now Know,238.
88 Martini and Haller, What We Have, We Shall Defend,24.
89 Ibid., 67-78,117.
90 Stephen I. Schwartz, ed., Atomic Audit: The Costs and Consequences of U.S. Nuclear Weapons Since 1940 (Washington, D.C.: Brookings Institution, 1998), available online at . This number includes manpower authorizations, peculiar and support equipment, necessary facilities and the associated costs specifically identified and measurable to the following: Direct Support Maintenance Units, General Support Maintenance Units, Air Defense Brigades Headquarters and Headquarters Batteries, Headquarters and Headquarters Batteries Air Defense Artillery Missile Batteries, Air Defense Group Headquarters and Headquarters Batteries. It excludes Technical Service Support, SAM Fire Coordination Systems, and Missile Training.
91 Ibid., available online at .
92 Ibid.
93 Ibid.