United States civil defense

United States Civil Defense

United States civil defense

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United States civil defense refers to the use of civil defense in the history of the United States, which is the organized non-military effort to prepare Americans for military attack. Over the last twenty years, the term and practice of civil defense have fallen into disuse and have been replaced by emergency management and homeland security.


Pre–World War

There is little history of civil defense in the United States before the twentieth century. Indeed, since time immemorial cities built walls and moats to protect from invasion and commissioned patrols and watches to keep an eye out for danger. But such activities have not traditionally been encompassed by the term "civil defense." The U.S. has a particular lack of early civil defense efforts because the American homeland was seldom threatened with a significant attack. Despite these considerations, there are still examples of what would today be considered civil defense. For example, as early as 1692, the village of Bedford, New York kept a paid drummer on staff, who was charged with sounding the town drum in the event of a Native American attack—a very early precursor to the wailing sirens of the Cold War.

World War I

Civil Defense truly began to come of age, both worldwide and in the United States, during the first World War--although it was usually...
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