2013 has been an incredible year for me, full of personal and professional growth. I have much to be grateful for, including incredible friends and family.
For me these were the top five stories of 2013:
Attacked On St. Patriot’s Day, more than 23,000 Boston Marathon runners wended through the hiscity. Two brothers, whose family immigrated to Massachusetts in 2002, allegedly set down a backpack near the finish line. Homemade bombs created from pressure cookers exploded, ultimately killing three and injuring 264.
The bombers picked the wrong city. Boston is America’s historic backbone, a mix of Yankee pragmatism, workingclass toughness and intellectual know-how. It might be ideal symbol in a terror plot, but in reality its pugilistic spirit can’t be cowed. Victims were rushed within minutes to America’s most prestigious hospitals. Within days, police tracked down the brothers in a manhunt that left MIT officer Sean collier and elder brother Tamerlan Tsarnaev dead.
Liberty watchers protested the city shutdown, and social news service Reddit had to apologize when its citizen policing bled into vigilantism. The White House launched an investigation about what happened to Russia’s earlier warnings about Tamerlan Tsarnaev. Families grieved.
But Boston rallied behind its motto, Boston Strong. And in a city wild about its sports, the Red Sox vowed to dedicate its season to its city and won the World Series on its home turf — and broke the curse of the Bambino.
Affordable Care Act
After years of judicial, political and budget challenges, the Affordable Care Act, more often referred to as Obamacare, was due to launch, but not before opponents sunk their teeth two more times: first by tying the debt ceiling vote to defunding the Affordable Care Act, then investigating the beleaguered launch of the national site, HealthCare.gov.
Technical glitches and reports of insurance companies canceling plans led to a House hearing with curious comparisons to the “Wizard of Oz,” which might or might not have been inspired by Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius’ birthplace of Kansas. Amid grilling that could have been scripted by news parody shows, people soldiered online to look for state exchanges and get a straight quote, once and for all. Nearly 48 million Americans under 65 are not insured.
That North Korea ranked so highly in news story searches on Yahoo might be surprising. Then again, that there was any teeth to that autocratic regime’s threats surprised many.
Nearly half of its population — 24 million — live in poverty and its last supreme leader, the late Kim Jong-Il, didn’t intimidate what with his pompadour, platform shoes and those periodic missile launches that fell miles off-target.
Until this year, when the country — under his son and leader Kim Jong Un — performed successful nuclear tests, called the U.S. a “sworn enemy” and declared war with its southern neighbor. North Korea even disregarded requests from long-time supporter China. Analysts now believe that North Korean missiles exist and pose a threat. And after killing his uncle for turning on him, little Kim seems to be the new Caligula.
Remember Trayvon Martin
If anyone renewed those idyllic 2008 claims that a black president proved that America’s race problems were behind us, one only had to look at raging commentary over interracial crime statistics or racial profiling that the George Zimmerman trial provoked.
Supporters cast Zimmerman as a citizen who put down a thug, but antagonists saw a trigger-happy racist. After his acquittal, Zimmerman stayed in the headlines when his wife of seven years filed for divorce from her “selfish” husband and when he was arrested on domestic violence charges involving his new girlfriend.
As for the president himself, Barack Obama gave a rare and candid insight into his experience as an African-American male. He also said the justice system had done its job: Divided the nation might be about the acquittal, the initial injustice of Sanford police failing to file charges over the death of Trayvon Martin had been remedied — albeit spurred by an online petition. A petition, at least in this day and age, does not render a verdict, but it can ask for justice.
Pope Francis Stuns The Rich
On Feb. 11, Pope Benedict XVI decided to call it quits – in Latin, of course. The announcement sent the Vatican scrambling to find a replacements and armchair historians in a tizzy. (First time in 598 years! What do you call a retired pope! Can he even do this!).
Papal watchers expected plenty of time to read signs like the seagull perched atop the Sistine Chapel, but the ederly cardinals pumped out the white smoke declaring “Habemus Papam” in a little more than 24 hours — the kind of speedy decision-making that Americans could envy (but shouldn’t, since envy’s a sin). Out emerged Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio of Latin America, the offspring of Italian immigrants.
Whispers circulated about his connections to the Argentinian church’s failures during the Dirty War, but his famously low-key lifestyle, his homage to St. Francis of Assisi and acts of humility soon endeared him to millions.
Pope Francis even won liberal spectators when he urged a shift to relieving poverty instead of decrying homosexuality, premarital sex and abortion. Time magazine named him its person of the year.
Well, there you have it. I hope that 2014 will bless you all with all the best.