OPINION: Review of the interesting year of 2020

Graphic by Ethan Gerling

Every year around New Year’s Eve, people claim that “this next year will be their year.” New Year’s Eve 2019 was no different in this respect, but then 2020 happened. The year 2020 was eventful, to say the least, with a worldwide pandemic, a heated U.S. presidential election and many other interesting events that somehow crammed themselves into one year. Yet through good and bad times (mostly bad), many of us were able to persevere into 2021. 

To kickstart the year, international relations became strained after former President Donald Trump issued an airstrike in Baghdad, Iraq, that killed Iranian Gen. Qassem Soleimani. The event elevated tensions between the U.S., Iraq and Iran and both Iraq and Iran later issued separate arrest warrants for Trump. 

A few days after the drone strike, Iran retaliated by launching rockets at two U.S military bases that were stationed in Iran. Thankfully, things de-escalated and nothing else quite as dramatic occurred. This was pretty scary for Americans because there were not many countries that agreed with Trump’s decision and the discussion of a possible world war was trending on social media. 

Only 26 days into the year, a beloved NBA legend and his 13-year-old daughter tragically passed away. Of course I am talking about Kobe and Gianna Bryant. Bryant and his daughter were traveling by helicopter to a basketball tournament his daughter was competing in when the helicopter crashed, killing Bryant, Gianna, and seven others. The death of Kobe Bryant shocked millions of people, especially residents of Los Angeles, where many murals have been put up to honor the soon-to-be Hall of Famer.

Not long after that, the world was introduced to the hated coronavirus (a.k.a COVID-19). The virus was first discovered in Wuhan, China, and spread worldwide, resulting in many countries going into lockdown. People’s plans were upended as this virus shut down concerts and music festivals, postponed vacations, forced bars and clubs to close and disrupted normal life. 

COVID-19 has been responsible for more than 2.3 million deaths, crashed economies, caused businesses to fail worldwide and created a deeply troubling and confusing time in people’s everyday lives. As bad as COVID-19 has been, to see how quickly scientists have been able to come up with a vaccine and the thousands of people who volunteered to take experimental vaccines to make this happen has been truly incredible. We should all be extremely grateful to these people.

Throughout the year, the country experienced a number of incidents of police violence directed at African Americans, including the deaths of Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, and many others. These events led to protests and, in some cases, riots. Protests in Minneapolis after Floyd’s death spread nationwide and internationally. There were many more peaceful protests than violent, and the movement they advanced continues.

As we all know, 2020 was overall a bad year, but we can look back on a few things that happened that actually were great. Space exploration made significant strides forward. NASA sent the largest rover ever to Mars and a SpaceX rocket carried American astronauts into space to the International Space Station. According to Business Insider, “The launch kicked off the first-ever human flight in a commercial spacecraft, and marked the first time an American-made vehicle has launched humans from US soil in nearly a decade.”

The rover heading to Mars is going to be a big step for space exploration because, according to Nature, “the rover will try to collect rocks to bring back to Earth, look for signs of life, launch a helicopter and record audio on Mars for the first time.” This could answer many questions we have about Mars. 

Toward the end of the year, the presidential election between Trump and Joe Biden was probably one of the most unusual of all time. This was the first time that a large number of people did not vote in-person on Election Day because of the pandemic. Many people voted by mail or went to locations for early voting to cast a ballot. This resulted in multiple recounts. The results favored Biden, declaring him President of the United States, but Trump contested the validity of the outcome. This election also made Kamala Harris the first female vice president.

While 2020 had its ups and downs, finding a bright side is always possible. Worldwide we have seen people make the best of what life has thrown at them, whether through home projects, getting into shape or many other productive activities. We also have learned how to improvise, and that always will be a great skill to have.

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