Bad News by the Decades

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

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