, 7 tweets, 3 min read Read on Twitter
1. There’s a story the Pentagon tells every year about NORAD’s Santa Tracker. It’s charming. It’s lovely. It’s a lie. (The thing is? The truth is event better.)
2. The tale goes like this: A newspaper printed the wrong number of Sears’s Santa. The colonel who had the watch answered, and played along, then had his staff field the calls. A tradition was born. Here’s NORAD’s current commander, repeating the myth: gazette.com/news/technolog…
3. But you know what Col. Harry Shoup actually said that Christmas, when a child reversed two digits? "There may be a guy named Santa Claus at the North Pole, but he’s not the one I worry about coming from that direction.” (Bah, Humbug!) theatlantic.com/national/archi…
4. Shoup was the kind of Cold Warrior who won a citation for telling neighbors of an air base complaining about jet-fighter noise, “The noise from friendly jets isn’t as bad as bombs from enemy jets could be.” theatlantic.com/national/archi…
5. But when his staff put a sleigh on the tracking board, he saw a PR opening. He told the press that CONAD would "track and guard Santa and his sleigh on his trip to and from the U.S. against possible attack from those who do not believe in Christmas."
6. The press ate it up. CONAD became NORAD. Each year, the PR stunts grew more elaborate. And here’s the thing. Along the way, something wholly unexpected happened. theatlantic.com/national/archi…
7. Thousands of service personnel began to volunteer. Instead of barking at kids for wasting their time, like Shoup, they do their best to make their Christmas special. A Cold War PR stunt turned into something genuinely lovely: theatlantic.com/national/archi…
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