2017 in Review: The Stories that Shaped Our Year

Kathryn Wilkinson ‘20
EE Staff Writer

The year of 2017 brought with it political change, international conflict, as well as devastating events in our own nation as a result of hurricanes and, unfortunately, senseless acts of violence. This past year was truly a year like no other, bringing with it dramatic events that shaped our lives politically and socially as each story rose as a headline.

In January, the year was kickstarted with the unforgettable inauguration of Donald Trump. On January 20th, Trump was sworn in as the nation’s 45th president. His campaign in 2016 was marked by deep political divisions and sparked controversy among Americans. So, his inauguration was significant as he promised that his agenda was to benefit all Americans. President Trump himself even acknowledged the importance of his inauguration by stating that after that day, “the forgotten men and women of our country will be forgotten no longer.” This day marked the beginning of a new chapter in our nation’s political history.

The month continued to offer reform for the nation. On the 21st, the Women’s March on Washington took place and over half a million protesters marched for a variety of reasons, including gender equality, healthcare reform, immigration reform, LGBTQ rights, racial equality, the natural environment, and reproductive rights. This protest was held to challenge many of policies and views that President Trump expressed during his campaign, several of them deemed offensive, particularly to women. This protest has become known to be the largest single day protest in all of the nation’s history. The slogan “Women’s rights are human rights” was a battle cry heard around the country.

With Mr. Trump as president, the tensions with foreign countries, particularly North Korea, have mounted significantly over the course of 2017. The threat of nuclear war has become imminent. Leader Kim Jong Un demonstrated his country’s ability to launch nuclear missiles outside of normal range and at the United States. However, President Trump combatted these threats, promising North Korea would be met with “fire and fury like the world has never seen.” As tensions with North Korea loomed large, efforts were taken to suppress the growing international conflict.

As the year continued, events besides political issues came to the forefront of society. The first total solar eclipse since 1918 fascinated Americans on August 21st. The path of totality stretched from Oregon and across the nation to South Carolina. The eclipse occured as the three celestial bodies, the Earth, Moon, and sun, lined up perfectly. The moon crossed in front of the sun, which caused the viewers on Earth to see the sun go dark. This occurred in full only in the path of totality. In order to view the event safely, special glasses had to be worn or the reflection had to be viewed. The eclipse was one of the biggest astronomical events of the decade, securing a special place in history.

As summer wound down, fall approached and so did hurricane season. The year’s hurricane season brought with it devastating storms that affected the lives of millions in the United States and throughout the Caribbean. These storms destroyed the livelihoods of many people, permanently displacing some. The three largest hurricanes, Harvey, Irma, and Maria ravaged Texas, Florida, and Puerto Rico respectively. Category three hurricane Harvey caused historic flooding in Houston. This tropical cyclone caused about $200 billion in damage, displacing over 30,000 people and prompting over 17,000 rescues. Harvey was one of the most significant hurricanes to ever make landfall in the country and also ranked as the costliest natural disaster in the U.S. to date. The storm lasted from August 17th until it dissipated completely on September 3rd.

Hurricane Irma struck Florida not even two weeks after Harvey began. The hurricane affected the Florida Keys most heavily, becoming a category 4 upon striking land. The hurricane caused 34 fatalities and cost about $66 billion in repairs, ranking unofficially as the fifth most expensive storm in history.

Finally, Hurricane Maria barreled into Puerto Rico, the most powerful storm to hit that area in the last century. The storm caused immense damage to the island, destroying much of the infrastructure and leaving thousands without power for months after the power grid went out completely. These hurricanes proved to be utterly devastating, but with help from surrounding communities and generous people from all around the U.S., the victims of the storms have been able to get back up on their feet through fundraising and donations. Former President Barack Obama encouraged all Americans to “get involved, get engaged, and stand up.”

Amidst the natural disasters that came to a close in December, 2017 unfortunately saw attacks and acts of violence all around the world. Terrorism has still been prevalent in society, resulting in a tragic loss of life. The first major attack seen in 2017 was in Manchester at an Ariana Grande concert on May 22nd. The suicide bombing was the deadliest terrorist attack in Britain since 2005, killing 22 and injuring over 500 others. On October 1st, in a concert at the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino in Las Vegas, a lone gunman opened fire. He killed 59 concert goers and injured over 500 others. As the year came to a close, the nation saw another devastating shooting. On November 5th, a gunman later identified as Devin Kelly, entered a church in rural Texas and killed 26, and injuring 19. The victims ranged in age from 5 to 72 years old.

The year of 2017 brought stories and events that changed lives forever. While some headlines brought devastation and hardship, others brought once in a lifetime experiences and hope to millions.

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