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Show some appreciation and learn more about someone who has been called “the man who saved the world” by getting involved with Stanislav Petrov Day! 

History of Stanislav Petrov Day

The origins of Stanislav Petrov Day can be traced back to historical events that took place in 1983. It was on this day that a lieutenant colonel from the Soviet Union intervened to protect the world from a potential nuclear war, averting a catastrophe. Petrov eventually became known as “the man who single-handedly saved the world” and he was honored for his wisdom and intelligence in handling the delicate situation.

This entire event was based around an alarm that went off during the Cold War between the USSR and the United States (along with its allies). When a Soviet early warning system (Oko) reported that five missiles had been launched from the US, Petrov, an engineer, suspected it to be a false alarm. With this in mind, he decided to wait for more evidence of an attack before he sent the information up the chain of command – which could have prompted a retaliatory attack. In a moment of crisis, Petrov knew that his actions could destroy the world, so he wanted to be absolutely sure.

As it turned out, the false alarm was caused by some bugs in the system, along with rare weather patterns and satellite orbits. Initially praised by his superiors in the Soviet army for his decisions, Petrov was never rewarded and, instead, was reprimanded for paperwork issues and reassigned to a less important post. He quickly retired and was reported to have suffered a nervous breakdown.

It wasn’t until 15 years later that the incident was made public and the world began to show appreciation for it. While the Soviet government never honored him, Stanislav Petrov received a number of other awards, including the Dresden Peace Prize and the World Citizen Award. In 2018, the year following his death, Petrov was honored in New York with the Future of Life Award.

The founding of Stanislav Petrov Day was prompted by the Effective Altruism Movement as far back as 2022 and has been celebrated each year since.

How to Celebrate Stanislav Petrov Day

Consider one of these ideas, or get creative and come up with some of your own unique plans for participating with Stanislav Petrov Day:

Watch The Man Who Saved The World

In 2006, Petrov visited the United States where he was interviewed for the news media, footage that was eventually included in the 2014 documentary called The Man Who Saved the World. One way to honor Stanislav Petrov Day and understand the man behind the story a bit better might be to view the documentary that was made about his story.

Host a Stanislav Petrov Day Event

Have a delightful time celebrating the fact that the world didn’t end more than 40 years ago with a gathering in honor of Stanislav Petrov Day. Perhaps this would be an educational event at school, learning about topics related to ethics or the history of the Cold War. Or maybe it would be a fun party with an ‘80s theme that celebrates Petrov as a hero – a guy who kept a cool head and made a wise decision, even under pressure.

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