We’ve been here before.
History.com describes the year 1968 as “one of the most tumultuous single years in history, marked by historic achievements, shocking assassinations, a much-hated war and a spirit of rebellion that swept through countries all over the world.”
Smithsonian magazine describes it as “The Year That Shattered America.”
Even the National Archives refers to it as “a turning point in U.S. history, a year of triumphs and tragedies, social and political upheavals, that forever changed our country.”
It was a year that saw Neil Armstrong set foot on the moon, continued unrest over an unpopular war in Vietnam, riots around the country over the war and race, passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1968, and assassinations of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Robert F. Kennedy.
So much happened in that year that it is remembered as emblematic of the times.
We are, perhaps, experiencing another such year.
Although 2020 is not yet over — who knows what will occur in the next two months? — consider some of the tumultuous events that have already occurred.
The COVID-19 pandemic represents the worst public-health disaster since the flu of 1918. Worldwide cases total 44,845,216, as of Oct. 29, with deaths at 1,177,898. In the U.S., cases total 8,918,548, with 228,324 deaths. And a second wave promises a dark autumn and winter, with epidemiologists warning of the potential for 100,000 cases daily in the U.S. alone.
Similar spikes are being experienced in Europe. All the while, pharmaceutical companies are pushing forward to develop vaccines as soon as possible to stem the tide of the pandemic.
Economically, the coronavirus already has caused the worst economic recession since the Great Depression. (The Dow Jones Industrial Average plunged 2,997 points on March 16.) Progress that was made in the third quarter could easily slip away in the fourth. Small businesses are suffering, and Congress shirked its responsibility by not passing a second stimulus and relief package prior to adjourning.
Because of the pandemic, the Olympics were postponed, major sports leagues had to push games to the late summer or fall.
Just as in 1968, race remains at the forefront of American society. Unjust killings of Black citizens happen regularly, and people of all races have said, “Enough.” From city to city, neighborhood to neighborhood, police department to police department, frustration, anger, sorrow and shock remain high.
2020 also is the year of the fire. Remember the Australian bushfires that stretched into the year from way back in 2019? That pattern has continued, from California to just outside Boulder, Estes Park, Loveland and Fort Collins.
Overseas, the United Kingdom withdrew from the European Union, the impact of which remains unknown.
Oh, and this is the year that President Trump was impeached — only the third presidential impeachment in U.S. history.
Of course, like 1968, 2020 is an election year. As of this writing, we don’t yet know the outcome of the contest between Donald Trump and Joe Biden. But the venom of this campaign does not bode well for how the losing side will react on election night.
2020 might not be as consequential a year as 1968, but it’s destined to be remembered — and lamented – for decades to come.
Christopher Wood can be reached at 303-630-1942, 970-232-3133 or firstname.lastname@example.org.