Through the Decades: A Look at the First 19 Years of the 21st Century

Remember New Year’s Eve, 1999? People were celebrating the turn of a new century, another decade, and millennium. For some people, they were also looking at the unknown of what could happen going into the 21st century. Now, 19 years later, a great deal has happened, some good, some bad, but all memorable. Before we enter 2020, let’s take a look back at the notable happenings from 2000 to 2019.

2000 – Since 2000, the United States has had three presidents – George W. Bush, Barack Obama, and Donald Trump. In 2000, Texas Governor George W. Bush defeated Al Gore and was elected the 43rd president. However, the votes were so close in Florida, there was a recount, and eventually, the Supreme Court declared a president a month after Election Day.

2001 – Not many people can forget the September 11, 2001 attacks on the Pentagon and the World Trade Center. Nearly 3000 people were killed when two planes flew into the World Trade Center, and one crashed at the Pentagon in Arlington, VA. Another plane crashed in a field in Shanksville, Pennsylvania. The original plan for the plane was averted by the passengers. On October 7th, the United States military and the United Kingdom began their first attack in the War on Terrorism against the Taliban and Al-Qaeda in Afghanistan.

2002 – President Bush opens the Winter Olympic Games in Salt Lake City on February 8th. The games continued until the closing ceremony on February 24th.

2003 – The Space Shuttle Columbia crashed over Texas on February 1st. All seven astronauts are killed after a successful space trip.

2004 – One day after Christmas, a tsunami killed over 200,000 people from Sri Lanka to Indonesia. The event was one of the greatest humanitarian tragedies in history.

2005 – Hurricane Katrina hits the Gulf Coast in late August. New Orleans became filled with water from Lake Pontchartrain when the levees broke. Today it is viewed as one of the worst natural disasters in the United States.

2006 – The Wii gaming console was released by Nintendo in November 2006 at $249.99.

2007 – Representative Nancy Pelosi is sworn in as the first female speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives on January 4th.

2008 – Barack Obama was elected in a landslide election as the 44th President of the United States and the first African-American president.

2009 – Captain Chesley B. Sullenberger, “Sully,” successfully lands US Airways Flight 1549 in the Hudson River after being struck by a flock of geese shortly after takeoff.

2010 – The Affordable Care Act was passed on March 25th. The legislation extended healthcare benefits and insurance to many Americans. However, it was controversial and caused concerns from the public and Congress.

2011 – The war in Iraq was declared over in December and President Obama ordered the remaining combat troops to leave the country.

2012 – Two historic shootings took place in 2012. First, on July 20th, a gunman opened fire in Aurora, Colorado at a midnight showing of “The Dark Knight Rises,” killing 12 people and injuring 58. Then, on December 14th, 26 people died, mostly children, at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newton, Connecticut. The attack is now the second deadliest mass shooting committed by a single gunman in U.S. history.

2013 – 100,000 people came to the Lincoln Memorial and the National Mall in Washington, D.C. to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech on August 28th.

2014 – The Ice Bucket Challenge overtook the Internet and controlled social media for summer 2014. People, including celebrities, dumped buckets of ice water on their heads, then challenged others to do the same, all to raise money and awareness for ALS/Lou Gehrig’s Disease. At the end of the craze, $115 million was raised for the ALS Association.

2015 – Pope Francis made his first visit to the United States in September. He held services in Washington, New York City, and Philadelphia.

2016 – Music competition show American Idol ended its fifteen-year run on April 7th. For eight of its seasons, the show was number one on television and brought in over 31 million viewers in 2006 alone.

2017 – Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria plowed through Texas, Florida, and the Caribbean, causing massive flooding and destruction. Celebrities came together and hosted the “Hand in Hand” telethon for Hurricanes Harvey and Irma victims.

2018 – President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un met for the first time to discuss North Korea giving up its plans for nuclear weapons.

2019 – 2019 was an important year for many historical events. We celebrated the 50th anniversaries of the moon landing and Woodstock. This past June, we remembered the 75th anniversary of D-Day, when Allied troops stormed the beaches of Normandy, France.

As I completed research for this article, many events I had forgotten about reappeared. Here’s to 2020 and many more years of history-making!



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