It was on this date in 1962, that President Kennedy told the nation about the Soviet missiles in Cuba. From The New York Times report on the speech:
President Kennedy imposed a naval and air “quarantine” tonight on the shipment of offensive military equipment to Cuba.
In a speech of extraordinary gravity, he told the American people that the Soviet Union, contrary to promises, was building offensive missiles and bomber bases in Cuba. He said the bases could handle missiles carrying nuclear warheads up to 2,000 miles.
Thus a critical moment in the cold war was at hand tonight. The President had decided on a direct confrontation with–and challenge to–the power of the Soviet Union.
All this the President recited in an 18-minute radio and television address of a grimness unparalleled in recent times. He read the words rapidly, with little emotion, until he came to the peroration–a warning to Americans of the dangers ahead.
“Let no one doubt that this is a difficult and dangerous effort on which we have set out,” the President said. “No one can foresee precisely what course it will take or what costs or casualties will be incurred.”
“The path we have chosen for the present is full of hazards, as all paths are–but it is the one most consistent with our character and courage as a nation and our commitments around the world,” he added.
It was as close as we’ve ever come to nuclear war.