2015 in Review: Big Moments Happening Around The World
January: On January 7th, three days of terror are unleashed in Paris against the offices of the satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo. By the 9th of January, the world is mourning the loss of life in the attacks. Al-Qaeda claims responsibility for the 12 deaths and 11 injuries inflicted. The newspaper’s anti-religious humor had incited anger among Islamic organizations in previous years, especially after it published a series of cartoons depicting the prophet Muhammad in 2012.
February: The first map of the complete human epigenome is unveiled. For those who were blown away by the completion of the map of the human genome a few decades ago, the epigenome maps the control center for the expression of genes by our cells. This accomplishment creates incredible opportunities for better understanding hereditary diseases.
March: ISIS continues its violence and its destruction of ancient heritage sites, causing grief for Westerners, Iraqis, and Syrians alike. The terrorist group pillages some of the sites, selling the art on the black market to fund their military endeavors. Most of their actions against UNESCO world heritage sites have been deadly and irreversible; the Assyrian city of Nimrud, the palace at Khorsabad, and the Mosul Museum and Library are all but reduced to piles of chalky dust.
April: In a horrific act of terrorism in Kenya, 148 people, many of them students, are killed in a mass shooting at Garissa University College. Gunmen who claim to be members of Al-Shabaab take a number of Christian students hostage during the attacks. Images of rooms of young men and women slaughtered at their desks haunt the world.
May: In a jaw-dropping vote with more than 60 percent turnout, Ireland becomes the first country to legalize same-sex marriage by a national referendum. The historically conservative and religious country displays its full embrace of gay pride only 22 years after having decriminalized homosexuality.
June: Cuba becomes the first country in the world to eliminate vertically transmitted HIV and syphilis. This means that transmission of these infections from mother to child has been eradicated, marking a huge milestone for the country’s public health and setting an example for the rest of the world.
July: With the world watching, the United States beats Japan to win the Women’s World Cup. Carli Lloyd is named Player of the Match for her hat trick against Japan’s goalie, settling the final score at 5–2. New York City holds a celebratory parade for the champion team upon the occasion of their homecoming.
August: A state of emergency is declared in Ferguson, Missouri, after gunfire breaks out during protests marking the occasion of Michael Brown’s death a year earlier. Tyrone Harris Jr., an 18-year-old African-American man, is severely wounded and is later charged with felony assault against a police officer. Police from neighboring towns arrive in Ferguson in response to the declaration of the state of emergency.
September: On September 9th, Queen Elizabeth II becomes the longest-ruling monarch in the history of Britain. She will finish her 64th year of reign in early 2016. Long live the Queen! Speaking of the royal family and female monarchs, Princess Charlotte was born to the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge on May 2nd.
October: The Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter collects chemical evidence that enables NASA to confirm the presence of seasonal liquid-water flows on Mars. Could there be life on the red planet? Perhaps we will see NASA send astronauts to Mars in the coming years.
November: On November 13th, 130 people are killed in downtown Paris in a series of suicide bombings and mass shootings in entertainment venues, restaurants, and cafes. ISIS claims responsibility for the attacks. Two days later, Paris retaliates with an airstrike in Al-Raqqah, Syria.
December: Star Wars: The Force Awakens is released as the seventh episode of the film series. The movie grosses an astounding $57 million on its opening night, breaking US box office records. May the force be with you.
As you reflect on the comings and
goings of the past year, maybe you will consider your own highs and lows of
2015. Make a family time line or list outlining your family’s successes,
activities, and accomplishments during the past year. As you look ahead to 2016
and plan goals, be mindful of what we as a global community can look forward to
in the coming months: the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio (tune in starting on
August 5th); the withdrawal of all remaining American, Australian, and British
troops from Afghanistan; and the election of the next president of the United
States of America on November 8th.