Fear and Loading: NORAD Watching Santa Closely

posted on December 24, 2018

The North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) is once again tracking Santa this Christmas Eve, and American Rifleman tips its cumulative hat to the volunteers and military personnel fostering imaginations, nurturing hopes and making it possible for children of all ages to monitor Saint Nick during his annual worldwide tour. For more than six decades the public service has stood as a stark reminder that sometimes mistakes turn into the best gifts—many times for generations to come.

We covered the history in detail last year, but to summarize, it all began with a typo in a Sears ad that ran in Colorado Springs, CO. The phone number listed turned out to be the hotline at nearby NORAD, our round-the-clock alert system so critical during the height of the Cold War. Col. Harry Shoup fielded the first youngster’s request to talk to Santa and—with that typesetting error—his patience and willingness to find that sleigh on radar launched a tradition.

It’s a military success story not borne of strategy or tactics, but one launched when the spirit of the season met an ability to adapt and overcome. This time of year, many of those young men and women who followed him in that tradition of proudly wearing our nation’s uniform are standing on the front line of freedom. Some will be in faraway lands, guarding our freedoms far from home, family and friends.

We wish happy holidays to each and every one of them, whether nearby or far away. Thank you for your service.

We wish the same for all our readers and NRA members. May your New Year be glorious, filled with joy and the glad tidings.

The Norad Tracks Santa website may be tailored for youngsters, but adults should take a look. You can visit Santa’s Village, read one of the books in its library, listen to Christmas music and, of course, watch that countdown clock. It lets you know when Santa Claus is finally airborne and the animations help youthful imaginations soar as he makes his global trip.

Of course, adults busy wrapping presents, cooking dinner and tying up loose ends might want to log on for their children. Curious young eyes and hyperactivity will stay occupied for a long time once you do—thank you again Col. Shoup. It’s a wonderful gift.


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