They were acts of horror, and acts of inspiration. Something about them underlined the great or the evil within the human spirit. After they happened, it had been an entire different Planet Earth.
1. The Sinking of the ‘Unsinkable’ Titanic
With technological advances in communications at the dawn of the 20th Century, the sinking of the luxury ocean liner Titanic on its maiden voyage from England to New York on April 14, 1912 is arguably the first historical moment where people would always remember where they were and what they were doing when they heard the news. It resonated because the Titanic was a symbol of Western power and innovation, an ocean liner said to be “unsinkable.” When it sank, it was not only a tragedy, but a sign we weren’t as powerful as we had thought.
2. The Assassination of Archduke Ferdinand
With tensions already brewing, the June 28, 1914 murder of Archduke Ferdinand, heir to the throne of the Austria-Hungary empire, by a Serbian Nationalist, led to the outbreak of World War I. Germany and Austria-Hungary were allied as were Serbia, Russia, England and France, so when fighting broke out, they mobilized. As a result, their allies were also dragged into the war, in effect, resulting in the first global conflict.
3. The Stock Market Crash of 1929
On October 24, 1929, called as Black Tuesday, had the foremost devastating stock exchange crash within the history of the United States, when taking into consideration the complete extent and duration of its fallout. The crash, which wiped out many fortunes and businesses immediately, signalled the start of the 10-year Great Depression that affected all Western industrialized countries, and stoked the conditions that led to World War II.
4. The Attack on Pearl Harbor
The Japanese attack on the United States Navy at Pearl Harbor in Hawaii on December 7, 1941, was truly “A date which will live in infamy,” as President Franklin D. Roosevelt said following day, when he declared war on Japan and signaled U.S. entry into war II. Until 9/11 60 years later, it had been the worst foreign attack on U.S. soil, killing over 2,400 people. Most Americans heard about it through newscast bulletins, and always remembered where they were when they heard the news.
5. The Atomic Bomb Attacks on Japan
Just as Americans knew that the attack on Pearl Harbor would change their lives, so also they knew the dawn of the new atomic era would, too. The drops on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan, in August 1945 ended world war II once and for all — a reason for great joy round the world. But there was also a dread for what the threat of nuclear power would mean for us in the future.
6. The Establishment of the United Nations
Out of the ashes for war comes hope: In an effort to stay a World War III from happening, the nations of the planet got together in San Francisco in April 1945 to draft a charter for the World Organization – United Nations . By its ratification on October 24, 1945, even defeated Japan had signed on. The ratification made headlines all over the planet — and say what you may about the UN and its effectiveness, but there hasn’t been a WWIII.
7. Jackie Robinson Breaks Baseball’s Color Barrier
A large a part of the story of America within the 20th Century is integration — the striking down of laws forbidding marriage between different races, school desegregation and also the Civil Rights Act. There was no greater symbol of what was to come than when Robinson , No. 42, stepped to the plate for the Brooklyn Dodgers on April 15, 1947, becoming the first African American to play in American professional sports. The NFL and NBA would soon imitate .
8. The Montgomery Bus Boycott
On December 1, 1955, Rosa Parks was sitting near the front of a bus in Montgomery, Ala., when a Caucasian man boarded the bus. The bus driver told everyone in her row to maneuver back. Each and every other black people in her row except Parks complied. Parks refused and was arrested. That led to the Montgomery Bus Boycotts, which brought Luther King Jr. to prominence, and led to the Civil Rights Act of 1965.
9. The Launch of Sputnik
The Soviet Union’s successful launch of Sputnik, the first spacecraft to successfully leave Earth’s atmosphere (it was unmanned), on October 4, 1957, also launched the Space Race. It sent shockwaves through the Western world because it had been suddenly apparent that the Americans were behind the Soviets. Game on.
10. FDA Approves Birth Control Pill
Sometimes revolutions come without dictators, militaries or loss of life. Controversial from the beginning, the approval of The Pill on May 9, 1960, made instant headlines, paved the way for the sexual revolution (the Summer of love was only seven years later) and, in part, the women’s rights movement.
11. John Glenn Orbits the Earth
The U.S. took the lead in the Space Race over the Soviet Union on February 20, 1962, when Glenn became the first person to orbit the planet. Soviet cosmonaut Yuri Alekseyevich Gagarin was the first human in space, but didn’t orbit. Nor had Alan Shepard, the first American into space. Glenn’s feat suddenly made JFK’s promise to place a man on the moon by the end of the 1960s a sensible goal.
12. The ‘I Have a Dream’ Speech
Within every social movement, there’s a watershed moment that turns the tide toward irreversible success. For the Civil Rights movement, that moment was Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech, the culmination of the march on Washington. With national TV networks covering the event and 250,000 packed near the steps of the Lincoln Memorial , even detractors who heard MLK’s powerful words knew that the Civil Rights Act was inevitable.
13. The Assassination of JFK
The assassination of President John F. Kennedy on Nov. 22, 1963 stunned the planet , not just the United States. Even people living in Europe and Asia and all over mourned the loss of the great Leader. Thing were going pretty good in the 1960s — America was king, thriving bourgeoisie , winning the Space Race, won the Cuban Missile Crisis — and then a decade known for upheaval and violence was ushered in. Vietnam, the assassinations of Martin Luther King Jr. and Robert F. Kennedy. the planet changed.
14. Neil Armstrong Walks on the Moon
This was perhaps the greatest moment in history where the humans showed the human species that Nothing was Impossible and Everything was possible. When Armstrong stepped onto the moon July 20, 1969, and declared, “That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind,” The World came to a halt, glued to the global television coverage, their imaginations captured. For a moment, we weren’t nations, tribes, races or political parties — we were only one .
15. The Resignation of President Nixon
The resignation of a president would be a tragic day in any nation’s history. It had never happened before (or since, so far) within the United States. Nixon was found to have likely been behind the illegal break-in to the Democratic headquarters within the Watergate building. He was likely a crook. How can this be good at all? Here’s how: Nixon wasn’t removed by a coup. He didn’t declare law and try to hold on to his power. The handwriting was on the wall, he resigned, on August 8, 1974. Ford became president and the U.S. demonstrated to the worldyet again what a peaceful transition of power looks like .
16. The Fall of the Berlin Wall
On June 12, 1987, United States President Ronald Reagan was speaking in Berlin near the Brandenburg Gateto commemorate the 750th birthday of Germany’s capital city. During the speech, he pointed to the Berlin Wall — that symbol of Soviet oppression dividing Soviet-controlled Eastern Europe and free Western Europe — and boldly challenged Soviet premier Mikhail Gorbachev to “Tear down this wall!” With the Soviet Union crumbling, he did not have to. On November 9, 1989, the citizens of East and West Berlin did it for him. Ecstatic crowds swarmed the wall, bringing hammers and picks the very moment they got a confirmation by the head of the East German Communist Party that citizens of East Germany could cross the border whenever they pleased to. They dismantled the wall within weeks.
17. The Launch of the Google Search Engine
The Internet has changed everything in the world, obviously. But when was that moment, when you knew it would be revolutionary, and not just a fad for alittle cult of geeks? People were using the web and email in the early 1990s. But the launch of Google on September 15, 1997, further expanded the chances of the web . Before then, you had to understand specifically what you were trying to find . Now, the whole Internet was at your disposal, and Google took you there.
18. The 9/11 Attacks
The terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon surpassed Pearl Harbor as the worst foreign attack on U.S. soil, but it wasn’t just that — it was the announcement that terrorism would be the battle of the first decades of the 21st Century. Remember, it didn’t just shock us — it shocked the world. People all over the world gathered in their streets with tears and lighted candles in memory of the innocent souls. For a quick moment, once again the world was one. then we went our separate ways. nobody knows how this new world will end up . But suffice to mention 9/11 changed much of the way you reside your life.
19. COVID 19
As fall of the Berlin Wall and the collapse of Lehman Brothers, the Covid 19 pandemic is a world-shattering event whose far-ranging consequences we will only begin to imagine now.
It is very much sure, even as this disease has shattered lives, disrupted markets, devastated businesses and exposed the competence of governments, it will cause massive permanent shifts in political and economic power in ways that will become apparent only late. In short, COVID-19 will create a world that’s less open, less prosperous, and fewer free. It didn’t need to be this manner , but the mixture of a deadly virus, inadequate planning, and incompetent leadership has placed humanity on a brand new and worrisome path.