Quick: name two GOOD news stories from each decade of the 20th Century … without going to Wikipedia … It’s hard, I know but more on this later.
Over the weekend, I attended my town’s 47th annual festival, a nice street fair with vendors, children’s crafts, entertainment, etc. Along the venue, there were four “booths” in which the history of that decade was related. Each space had an aerial photo of this region showing our development from a planned community amidst farms to a pretty dense “urban” development today; and then next to that poster was one that showed pictures of the major political, sports and entertainment figures of the decade, and then a list of “major events” of the decade. Here’s where it all fell apart. The events are nearly ALL BAD NEWS! Not to mention riddled with mistakes (no wonder America’s kids’ history test scores are low).
Beyond the mistakes, and the odd lumping of the ‘90s and ’00s into “today and beyond," I noticed a few themes in this selection: 3 assassinations (or attempts); 2 each of: invasion, crisis, shooting, bombing; and 1 each of: mass suicide; murder(s), burglary, boycott, eruption, disaster, attack, and hurricane.
Of the 27 separate events listed below (typos included from the original, my correctives in brackets), I count four as genuine "good news” stories–the Beatles visit, the Berlin Wall’s fall, Apollo 11 landing, and Hawaii’s statehood (but note the wrong year here). Of the other 23, all but one (Roe v. Wade) are tales of war, natural disaster, political malfeasance, or criminality.
So the original question, which I am pondering: what would a “good news” list per decade look like? And what native knowledge to we bring to answering that question, without having to go look it up? I admit, it’s tough, and I’m pondering …
– Fred Dews, 2011
1960 Hawaii becomes 50th state [it was August 21, 1959]
1961 Bay of Pigs invasion
1962 Cuban missile crisis
1963 John F. Kennedy assassination
1964 Beatles’ visit U.S.
1968 Martin L. King assassination
1969 Apollo XI lands on the moon [Apollo 11, Arabic numerals]
1972 Munich Olympics murders
1972 Watergate burglary
1973 Roe vs. Wade
1979 Rev. Jimmy Jones mass suicide [Jim Jones, not Jimmy, and it was 1978]
1979 Iran hostage crisis
1980 U.S. Olympic boycott of Moscow
1980 Mt. St. Helen[s] erupts
1981 Hin[c]kley attempts to assassinate Ronald Reagan
1986 Challenger Disaster
1989 Berlin Wall comes down
Today and Beyond
1991 Operation Desert Storm
1993 World Trade Center Bombing
1995 Oklahoma City Bombing
1998 Columbine High School Shooting [it was 1999]
2000 “Dangling chads” Presidential Election
2001 9/11 Attack
2003 Invasion of Iraq
2005 Hurricane Katrina
2007 Virginia Tech Shooting