I originally entitled this post, “Looking Back at the End of the Decade”, because I can’t believe ten years have passed since we were all supposed to suffer a colossal meltdown at the hands of the Y2K bug. Ten years ago, around this time, I had never heard of Haverhill … I was working in Brooklyn, teaching at LIU, running my own business … awaiting the birth of my first child. The world was a different place, and I was a different person.
I know this is a library blog and it is meant for passing along information that is related to books and movies and school and learning. Much of who I am and what I like, however, dictates what gets written here (though I try to get input from students and teachers). So, with the end of this first decade, I would like to share with you, what I think are the 10 Most Important Events of the Last 10 Years. They are listed in chronological order, as best as I they could order them, because listing them in order of importance would have made my head explode.
- 2001: Attacks on September 11, 2001: The first truly global news story of the new millennium was a catastrophic one; orchestrated from afar, and carried out by zealots willing to murder thousands of innocent people. In the wake of the attacks, a new patriotism arose in the United States, and there also followed a renewed sense of urgency and togetherness.
- 2001: War on Terrorism: Unfortunately, with the new patriotism there also came the reawakening of the mighty U.S. military. Unlike previous conflicts, this new war does not engage a foreign state, but an abstract concept without borders or nationality or uniforms. For most of this opening decade, the United States has been at war in Afghanistan (2001) and Iraq (2003). More than 5,000 U.S. troops have been killed, 30 to 60,000 have sustained injuries and the cost of these “engagements” is approaching the one trillion dollar mark. I’m pretty sure we’ve also used up a lot of oil doing this.
- 2003: Mapping of the Human Genome: The Human Genome Project began in the 1990s and completed its first draft in 2000, just in time to mark a new era of insights in science and medicine. In 2003, the projected was completed, and Watson and Crick’s helix was decoded. Armed with the information of the human genome, a cadre of scientists continue working with powerful computers and offer fresh ideas in the treatment of diseases and disorders.
- 2004: The Tsunami of December 2004: Sometimes natural events strike in truly humbling and awe inspiring fashion. Such was the quake and ensuing tsunami that struck the Indian Ocean at the end of 2004. The human toll, the destruction of property and the struggle for recovery reminded everyone waiting to celebrate the upcoming new year, how fragile our existence is.
- 2005: Hurricane Katrina and the flooding of New Orleans: Failure to maintain and upgrade the surrounding levees of this major city led to one of the worst catastrophes in U.S. history, leaving nearly 1,500 dead and billions of dollars in destruction. Though the hurricane also devastated areas of Alabama and Mississippi, it was the images of the broken levees and a flooded New Orleans, that cast its mark into our memories.
- 2000s: The birth and explosion of social networking: Google was born in the late 90s, and Microsoft and Apple were spawned in the previous decade. The most important computing event of this past decade was the creation of applications that could connect us to each other. Facebook, today’s most popular Social Networking Site (SNS) is actually a relative late comer to the party. Few of us remember Friendster or Classmates.com, but that doesn’t mean they weren’t here first.
- 2000s: US economic ties with China: When I was a grade schooler, the other big bad nation on the block was the USSR. I was taught that they were our enemies because of their system of government and because of how they mistreated their people. We didn’t trade with them, we didn’t deal with them, and we certainly didn’t borrow money from them. How times have changed.
- 2008: Crash of the stock market marks the end of a decade of corruption: Ken Lay and Enron in 2001, Bernie Ebbers and World.com in 2002, Adelphia Communications in 2002, Arthur Anderson in 2002, Quest Communications in 2007, Bernard Madoff in 2009. Every time we turned on the news, it seemed like someone else had been caught getting rich by being crooked. The collapse of the big financial powers, the stock market and the American economy was as quick as a house of cards’ tumble, and we will be dealing with that during the second decade of this new millennium.
- 2008: Election of Barak Obama: Whether you voted for him or not, whether you like what he’s done so far or not, the election of Barak Obama as the 44th President of the United States was a watershed moment in American politics.
- 2009: H.I.V. Vaccine may be around the corner: Not yet a magic bullet, but the news that researchers and doctors had found a combination of shots that showed promise, means that we might be making the shadow of HIV/ AIDS a little less menacing than it has been during the last generation. It also marks another victory for science against the scourge of our tiniest enemies.
By the way, I decided to change the title because I concluded that ends, always mark new beginnings, and that we should always be looking forward (with an eye on the past, of course), seeking new horizons and a brighter collective future. My new title, by the way, is supposed to indicate that we still have 990 years to get things right.
Thank you all for sharing your time with me and I hope you all have a great holiday season and a very happy New Year.
Copyright © henry toromoreno, 2009. All rights reserved.