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Maderan’s Cold War Diary to appear

For The Madera Tribune

The Coast Guard Band is shown here playing in President Bill Clinton’s inaugural parade in 1993. Four years earlier, it played in Leningrad, being the first American military band to visit the Soviet Union, and also featured Madera High School graduate Kirk Edwards.


When Maderan Kirk Edwards graduated from Madera High School in 1973, he probably didn’t have any idea he would spend over 30 years in the U.S. Coast Guard.

Neither did he imagine that he would one day receive a Commission as a Chief Warrant Officer and move out of the ranks as a member of the Coast Guard Band to be the Director of the Cadet Bands for the Coast Guard Academy at New London, Connecticut.

There was also another part of Edwards’ service that would remain fresh in his mind. In 1989, traveling with the Coast Guard Band, he would visit a shaken USSR, the first U.S. military band to do so.

Recognizing that he was participating in something historic, CWO Edwards decided to keep a diary of his experiences.

The intrigue in 1989 in the United States concerning the USSR was palpable. President Ronald Reagan had referred to the Soviets as an “Evil Empire.” The Berlin Wall would come down that year and Perestroika and Glastnost swept the Soviet Union.

In May 1989, a new Congress met in Leningrad and Mikail Gorbachev became the first — and only — President of the Soviet Union. In the middle of all of that, one of Madera’s own took his place in the plane that would take him right to the heart of one of the greatest political struggles of the 20th century, and that’s why he took out his “small locket style diary” and began to write.

CWO Edwards has shared his diary with the 8th grade classes that are involved in writing the history of Madera’s African American community. So gripping is his story that the teachers in the project requested permission to publish an abridged account of the document in The Madera Tribune. CWO Edwards gave his permission.

In the weeks that follow, Tribune readers will be able to join the students as they follow the Madera High School graduate who saw the end of the Cold War first hand.


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