I was born in 1949, a critical year during the Cold War initiating major changes that are still with us. The treaty establishing NATO was signed in Washington, DC on the 4th of April, only nine days before my birth in Brooklyn. Many new nations were established this year including the independent Republic of Eire in Dublin (18 April); the German Federal Republic (West Germany) (23 May); the German Democratic Republic (East Germany) (07 October) and the People's Republic of China (01 October). Chiang Kai-shek resigned his presidency at the start of the year after losing to the Communists and his Nationalist forces spent most of 1949 moving from mainland China to Formosa (Taiwan). In May, Siam retitled herself Thailand.
The 1948 (or First) Arab-Israeli War between Israel and a coalition of Arab states over the control of Palestine ended in 1949 with Israel signing separate armistice agreements with Egypt, Lebanon, Jordan and Syria.
President Truman pledged continued US support of the UN at the Oct 24th dedication of its new headquarters at NYC. Its new International Court of Justice handed down its first decision on the 9th of April. In September, a UN commission reported that Civil war loomed in Korea.
In 1949, Radio Free Europe began broadcasting world news to listeners behind the Iron Curtain from a base at Munich. After the USSR ended its Blockade of West Berlin in May, the US continued its Berlin airlift dropping food and supplies until September thus completing over 277,000 flights.
One of the big steps in the Cold War happened in August of 1949 when the USSR detonated its first atomic bomb, developed as a result of nuclear secrets leaked by a German-born physicist who worked on the project to build the US "Fat Man" bomb. In September, a US spy plane picked up evidence of radioactivity off the coast of Siberia from the explosion of the Soviet bomb. Truman had to announce to the public that the US had lost its atomic monopoly. This would lead to an increased concern about national security and the US decision to develop the more destructive hydrogen bomb. The US Defense Department was created by retitling the War Department and new procedures were started such as "duck and cover" that would have children like me hiding under desks and in hallways during regular drills. In addition, "dog tags" were distributed in anticipation of the possible need to identify dead elementary school students.