Prepare to add a very heartfelt dot, everyone
September 18, 2017 11:11 AM   Subscribe

 
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posted by Wordshore at 11:12 AM on September 18


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posted by You Can't Tip a Buick at 11:15 AM on September 18


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posted by scaryblackdeath at 11:15 AM on September 18


While certainly worth a . , it's a sad comment that the importance of his passing went months without notice. May to Sept. is quite a long time.
posted by cyclotronboy at 11:15 AM on September 18 [8 favorites]


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posted by Atom Eyes at 11:15 AM on September 18


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posted by ultranos at 11:17 AM on September 18


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posted by Cash4Lead at 11:20 AM on September 18


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posted by Melismata at 11:20 AM on September 18



posted by Ogre Lawless at 11:21 AM on September 18


A true hero. There is a great 2014 documentary where he tours a US decommissioned missile silo. His anger and frustration at these terrible weapons should be an inspiration to all.

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posted by Catblack at 11:22 AM on September 18 [9 favorites]


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posted by Pope Guilty at 11:24 AM on September 18


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posted by 23skidoo at 11:25 AM on September 18


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posted by Sing Or Swim at 11:26 AM on September 18


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posted by Kattullus at 11:27 AM on September 18


🌐
posted by sammyo at 11:29 AM on September 18 [4 favorites]


. X 4.5 billion avoided.
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posted by Bee'sWing at 11:30 AM on September 18 [9 favorites]


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posted by surlyben at 11:33 AM on September 18


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A thousand .'s. We throw around the word 'hero' a lot these days - this guy was a hero. It took a lot of courage to do what he did. RIP.
posted by widdershins at 11:33 AM on September 18 [9 favorites]



posted by loquacious at 11:34 AM on September 18 [4 favorites]


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posted by lapolla at 11:36 AM on September 18


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posted by acb at 11:37 AM on September 18


Thank you, sir.
I knew your name before today, and I will make sure my child knows your name, too.
You are the reason I am alive.
You will be remembered.
posted by anastasiav at 11:39 AM on September 18 [9 favorites]



posted by lmfsilva at 11:39 AM on September 18


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posted by /\/\/\/ at 11:40 AM on September 18


Thanks for the extra 34 years, Comrade Petrov. Let's hope there's another one like you sitting in NORAD somewhere.

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posted by JoeZydeco at 11:41 AM on September 18 [13 favorites]


This is the kind of thing where in frustratingly impossible ideal world, the quiet hero in question should have been so well known to be able to freely walk the world and find generosity and hospitality everywhere he went. Or where almost everyone should have quietly sent him a few coins or bills at least once.

I don't mean to ruin the poor fellow with riches or anything, but it would be nice to know he never wanted for some nice blini and caviar or a really good cup of tea and that the world remembered him and his choice.
posted by loquacious at 11:42 AM on September 18 [22 favorites]


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thanks for the last 34 years.
posted by MrGuilt at 11:44 AM on September 18 [5 favorites]


A true hero.

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posted by sukeban at 11:44 AM on September 18


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posted by duffell at 11:47 AM on September 18


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We're going to need more men like Stanislav Petrov.
posted by tobascodagama at 11:49 AM on September 18 [10 favorites]


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Ничто не забыто.
posted by Wrinkled Stumpskin at 11:52 AM on September 18 [3 favorites]


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posted by EmpressCallipygos at 11:54 AM on September 18


Спасибо, полковник Петров, от всего человечества.
posted by briank at 11:55 AM on September 18 [4 favorites]


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posted by drezdn at 12:00 PM on September 18


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posted by tzikeh at 12:01 PM on September 18


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posted by harujion at 12:07 PM on September 18


Just finished Eric Schlosser's Command and Control. It's improbable that any of us are alive today. This man and others who stepped back from the brink deserve undying praise.


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posted by Abehammerb Lincoln at 12:09 PM on September 18 [11 favorites]


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posted by AABoyles at 12:09 PM on September 18




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posted by JamesD at 12:12 PM on September 18


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posted by LegallyBread at 12:17 PM on September 18


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posted by Become A Silhouette at 12:18 PM on September 18


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posted by radwolf76 at 12:18 PM on September 18


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posted by jim in austin at 12:19 PM on September 18


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posted by Flannery Culp at 12:20 PM on September 18


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posted by ZeusHumms at 12:22 PM on September 18


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posted by Canageek at 12:23 PM on September 18


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posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 12:30 PM on September 18


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posted by drnick at 12:31 PM on September 18


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posted by ocschwar at 12:32 PM on September 18


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posted by LobsterMitten at 12:36 PM on September 18


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posted by Chrysostom at 12:39 PM on September 18


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posted by SecretAgentSockpuppet at 12:47 PM on September 18


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posted by current resident at 12:49 PM on September 18


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posted by Guy Smiley at 12:54 PM on September 18


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posted by biffa at 12:55 PM on September 18


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posted by lisa g at 12:58 PM on September 18


<3 .
posted by clone boulevard at 1:01 PM on September 18


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posted by mcdoublewide at 1:03 PM on September 18


That scene [SLYT] in the movie "War Games," where one Air Force missle guy aims his revolver at the other one (who's not turning his key to launch the missle) and grinds out "Turn your KEY, sir"....that has stuck with me for years and still makes my adrenaline spike.

And I kept thinking of Petrov the whole time that I listened to the audobook of Schlosser's "Command and Control," being just so grateful he had paused long enough to save the whole damn world.

Спасибо, indeed.
posted by wenestvedt at 1:07 PM on September 18 [5 favorites]


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posted by praemunire at 1:10 PM on September 18


Thank you.

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posted by _Synesthesia_ at 1:14 PM on September 18


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posted by sleeping bear at 1:31 PM on September 18


I first learned about Petrov's actions almost accidentally, whilst I was researching the British Space Programme and ended up down a rabbit hole of links on nuclear rocketry. It seemed almost unbelievable at the time, so I swore I'd come back to the topic and look at it in more detail at a later date.

What I discovered when I did was that it was that rare occasion when a tale got even scarier the more you looked into it.

I genuinely don't think most people today realise just how close the world came to accidentally blowing itself up in 1983. Not because anyone really wanted to kill each other (or, at least, not if it meant annihilating themselves as well) but because the two sides in the Cold War were playing such fundamentally different games, and neither side realised it.

To the USA and the Reagan administration, 'poking the bear' was just part of the game. It was posturing. It wasn't to be taken too seriously because America would never fire first - 'America doesn't do Pearl Harbors'. To Andropov and the Soviets though, locked in a paranoid world stoked by the KGB, possessed of a huge technical inferiority complex and petrified of a second Operation Barbarossa, every one of those US moves seemed evidence that a pre-emptive strike was about to come.

That's a terrifying combination. Because you can't calm a situation down if you don't know you're creating one, and you can't expect your enemy to stop angering you if they don't realise they're doing it.

Hell, even the tragic deaths of 250+ people when KAL007 was shot down still weren't somehow enough to wake everyone up to the fact that people were acting at crossed-wave-lengths. In fact, they made things worse - leading to Andropov ordering the Soviet missile forces to a 'Launch at Warning' status.

And that's very nearly how the world ended.

It's also why what Petrov did was so important. Not because anyone in that room at Serpukhov-15 likely thought that the US had genuinely started a war when those alarms went off - or at least not many of them. It was a relatively new system and so they would have guessed at it being a bug. But because it is likely neither Petrov, nor anyone else there, knew that the Soviet high-command was actually operating at a state of Launch at Warning.

That means that the 100% easiest thing for him to do would have been to just follow his orders and issue the Launch Warning - that is, do his own version of what the pilot who shot down KAL007 did just 20 days earlier.

All he had to do was follow orders. Make it someone else's problem, shrug and believe that they'll do the right thing instead. And hell, maybe they would have done. Maybe sanity would still have prevailed.

But he didn't punt the decision. He stopped. He thought. He questioned.

And in doing so he did, in all seriousness, likely save the world.

My write-up on the whole crisis is a few years old now and is here. At the time I was researching it, I only had a very brief, indirect contact with Petrov. Nonetheless, I remember vividly that the only thing he insisted on was not being called a hero. Despite the fact that what he did ultimately cost him his career in the army. Despite the fact that it partially cost him his marriage. Despite the fact that it had left him lonely and poor, wearing a faded uniform (of which he was so still proud) on a bad pension in a small Moscow flat.

He wasn't a hero, he said. He just did what any member of the human race would have done in his shoes. He was an ordinary man.

I will admit that I cried today. In sadness that he had passed, in gratitude at having the briefest of brief contact with him whilst he was alive, and in anger at the fact that his death was so long ago and even I'm only hearing about it until now. Shit, he even provoked my first Tweetstorm.

At the time I wrote about what he did I respected - and I still respect - his right to insist that he wasn't a hero. I refuse to accept though, that he wasn't a remarkable man.

He reminded me - and I hope, as long as his story is told, others too - of an important life lesson: That whatever you're asked to do in life, on whatever scale: it is your duty to stop and think.

As a member of the human race, it is your one job. Be like Stanislav and just do it.
posted by garius at 1:51 PM on September 18 [76 favorites]


Thank you, Mr. Petrov.
posted by egypturnash at 2:06 PM on September 18


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May we all remember him and do our duty, big or small, as well as he did when our moment comes.
posted by hat_eater at 2:06 PM on September 18 [4 favorites]


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posted by ST!NG at 2:10 PM on September 18


garius that is a wonderful write up.
posted by Tuco Benedicto Pacifico Juan Maria Ramirez at 2:24 PM on September 18 [4 favorites]


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posted by inflatablekiwi at 2:25 PM on September 18


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posted by Anne Neville at 2:34 PM on September 18


cold war kids, like me, are feeling this.

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posted by j_curiouser at 3:09 PM on September 18 [7 favorites]


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posted by Navelgazer at 3:17 PM on September 18


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posted by Don.Kinsayder at 3:20 PM on September 18


Requiem aeternam dona ei, Domine, et lux perpetua luceat ei. Requiescat in pace.
posted by ob1quixote at 4:15 PM on September 18 [4 favorites]


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posted by cybercoitus interruptus at 4:16 PM on September 18


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posted by A Terrible Llama at 4:16 PM on September 18


You know, it took about 4.5 billion years for us to get this far, and all of it would have been for nothing if not for Stanislav Petrov. (And other people who made similar decisions over the years.) It's truly rare to find a man who actually saved the world, without putting it in danger in the first place. Like in the first link, they say the next closest call during the Cold War was the Cuban Missile Crisis. You could say that Kennedy and Khrushchev saved the world by stepping back from the brink, but it was their actions that put everyone in that position to begin with. That's not the case with Petrov. Destiny called on a fairly ordinary officer, and he did the right thing.

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posted by Kevin Street at 4:24 PM on September 18 [3 favorites]


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posted by XMLicious at 4:31 PM on September 18


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Thank you, Stanislav.
posted by KingEdRa at 4:57 PM on September 18 [1 favorite]


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posted by Anita Bath at 5:10 PM on September 18


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posted by Mitheral at 5:20 PM on September 18


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posted by allthinky at 5:33 PM on September 18


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posted by tdismukes at 5:34 PM on September 18


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posted by dacoit at 6:00 PM on September 18


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posted by pjmoy at 6:09 PM on September 18


It's so messed up to me that a) so few people know who Petrov was and what he did, and that b) he died in such anonymity. There should be statues of him everywhere.

Lin-Manuel Miranda nailed it:

You have no control
Who lives, who dies,
Who tells your story


RIP Colonel.
posted by dry white toast at 6:10 PM on September 18 [6 favorites]


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Heartfelt is a good way to put it.
posted by LeLiLo at 6:30 PM on September 18 [1 favorite]



posted by MovableBookLady at 6:39 PM on September 18


I'm another Cold War Kid who first thought "My People!" about MeFites when I saw just how often y'all referenced Threads, so this, both his death and the fact that we're just finding out about it now, hurts in an odd way. I imagine current events is making me grieve more than I would if I weren't dealing with that resurgent dread. God knows I've been wondering lately if this generations Petrovs' will take that moment to pause. Rest well Mr Petrov-"thank you" seems inadequate.

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posted by jacy at 7:02 PM on September 18 [2 favorites]


Any words are terribly inadequate, but perhaps less so this way: Спасибо, что спасли наш мир, Станисла́в Евгра́фович. его до нас теперь, чтобы сделать его экономить.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 7:12 PM on September 18 [1 favorite]


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posted by andraste at 7:25 PM on September 18


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posted by Start with Dessert at 9:17 PM on September 18


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posted by runcifex at 9:54 PM on September 18


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posted by adrienneleigh at 10:43 PM on September 18


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posted by tonycpsu at 10:54 PM on September 18


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posted by bryon at 11:04 PM on September 18


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posted by panic at 11:04 PM on September 18


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posted by Lapin at 11:29 PM on September 18


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posted by Mister Bijou at 11:53 PM on September 18


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posted by heatvision at 2:33 AM on September 19


ytmnd
posted by kliuless at 3:57 AM on September 19


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posted by quinndexter at 4:27 AM on September 19


I was fourteen in 1983, and feared nuclear war. Thanks for keeping those fears from becoming reality, Mr. Petrov.
posted by bitmage at 5:15 AM on September 19 [1 favorite]


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posted by blankspot at 5:17 AM on September 19


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posted by postcommunism at 5:23 AM on September 19


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posted by filtergik at 5:24 AM on September 19


garius - But he didn't punt the decision. He stopped. He thought. He questioned.

And in doing so he did, in all seriousness, likely save the world.

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He wasn't a hero, he said. He just did what any member of the human race would have done in his shoes. He was an ordinary man.


I really hope he is right.

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posted by asok at 5:55 AM on September 19 [2 favorites]


Спасибо, товарищ.

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posted by Gelatin at 6:04 AM on September 19 [1 favorite]


That scene yt [SLYT] in the movie "War Games," where one Air Force missle guy aims his revolver at the other one (who's not turning his key to launch the missle) and grinds out "Turn your KEY, sir"....that has stuck with me for years and still makes my adrenaline spike.

If memory serves me correctly, the audience never does learn how that scene resolves, either. The movie instead cuts to Pentagon types discussing how too many missile control officers refused to turn the keys, hence the need for a computer-controlled system.
posted by Gelatin at 6:07 AM on September 19 [2 favorites]


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posted by halation at 6:10 AM on September 19


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posted by mikelieman at 6:32 AM on September 19


If he hadn't saved the world, my daughter would have been killed 2 weeks before she was born. Thank you, Stanislav Petrov, and I will remember you when I forget that one person can make a difference.
posted by Space Kitty at 10:29 AM on September 19 [1 favorite]


If memory serves me correctly, the audience never does learn how that scene resolves, either.

Right, then we get into the "we need to take the men out of the silos" stuff. We do see John Spencer's character later, when they are installing the computer in the silo, so we know that he was not killed in the opening.
posted by Chrysostom at 11:48 AM on September 19 [3 favorites]


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posted by homunculus at 1:08 PM on September 19


Well, of course, John Spencer would go on to practice law in LA, and eventually advise the President, while Michael Madsen would end up torturing a cop nearly to death. You never know how those military careers are gonna turn out.

He wasn't a hero, he said. He just did what any member of the human race would have done in his shoes.

I have tended to take Petrov's own advice here, as especially following the release of Command and Control, it's clear that there were many, many times when a human being chose the off-ramp instead of the expressway to hell. His may have been one of the more dramatic or narratively interesting, and I'm not saying he didn't deserve the plaudits he was given, but the entire system is both deeply flawed in ways that are disturbing -- and broken in ways that, counterintuitively, saved all of us. I think it's important to realize that. If he can stand in for all those other Petrovs, that's fine with me.
posted by dhartung at 3:30 PM on September 19 [3 favorites]


I think it's important to realize that. If he can stand in for all those other Petrovs, that's fine with me.

This is it, I think. There's a certain courage that comes from the solidarity of sanity. That is, being a regular person in an extraordinary situation, but knowing that similar ordinary people have made the right choices in similar situations too. That's comforting. It means you're not alone.

Like you say, if Petrov can stand forever as an example of when that happened which others can draw strength from, then that's a good thing. And it's a thing that I think he'd also have been happy with.
posted by garius at 4:45 PM on September 19 [3 favorites]


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posted by seyirci at 8:00 AM on September 20


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I don't know if he died alone, but to the extent I can love someone I've never met, I do, and he's certainly mourned.

Everyone alive today owes some aspect of their lives to him, even if it's just a less-irradiated world into which they were born.
posted by ChrisR at 10:18 AM on September 20



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Thank you for making sure the terror I felt as a child every time there was a noise in the sky didn't become reality.

Whenever I'm asked a question along the lines of 'who is one of your heroes? Who do you admire?" Stanislov Petrov is one my answers. Most don't know who he is/was so I tell his story.
posted by Jalliah at 10:27 AM on September 20 [3 favorites]


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posted by evilDoug at 5:14 PM on September 20


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posted by brainwane at 10:01 AM on September 21


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We are here because of Petrov. For those of who value life and the joy of living our thanks to this man will never be enough.

I can not help but cry right now.
posted by goalyeehah at 12:15 PM on September 22


Requiem aeternam dona ei, Domine, et lux perpetua luceat ei. Requiescat in pace.

I left Catholicism long ago. It's times like this, though, that this prayer resonates.
posted by goalyeehah at 12:19 PM on September 22 [1 favorite]


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