Anyone who has met me knows I am a full-on history nerd. I have been passionate about the past since I was a child, actively listening to my grandparents’ wartime stories and my mother’s stories of civil rights protests happening two miles from her house. This gave me an idea to look at the past historical events from this week and see how it relates to today. One day, I hope another writer will do this for 2020 because we are definitely living through a moment in history right now.
On this day in history in 1970, four students were killed at Kent State University by National Guardsmen. The students were protesting the Vietnam War and without firing a warning shot, the National Guardsmen started aiming fire at the students. Not only did they kill four students, but they also wounded others and paralyzed one for life. Even the university I currently attend had students protesting the Vietnam War because of its senseless violence and lack of purpose. Despite this awful day happening, the Vietnam War finally ceased in 1975 and students could enjoy learning in a classroom, instead of dying in a foreign country.
On this day in history in 1961, NASA sent the first American, Alan Shepard, into space. This was significant because it revived Americans’ faith in NASA against the ongoing competition with the Soviets and by 1969, Americans landed on the moon.
On May 6, 1994, the English Channel between Great Britain and France opened for the first time. This was a huge moment in modern Europe’s history because it connected Great Britain and the European mainland for the first time since the Ice Age. This channel allows people to travel from London to Paris within two-and-a-half hours.
On May 7 in 1945, the Germans finally surrender to the Allied forces at Reims when the German Commander, Alfred Jodl, signed a treaty. This officially ended the war in Western Europe.
On this day in 1945, Europe and America celebrate V-E Day, the end of World War II. Cities across America and Europe held up flags and paraded because the brutal war with Nazi Germany finally came to an end. Men could finally return home from fighting and people could finally restore what was left of their cities.
On this day in 1960, the FDA finally approved “the pill.” This was a historical moment for the women’s rights movement because it allowed women to have careers and pursue their goals instead of having children. The birth control pill allowed women to engage in sexual liberation, in which they could actually enjoy sex for pleasure and not just for having children. In current times, we still see a huge impact because of this. Women can now enjoy sex on their own terms and teenage pregnancies have drastically decreased over the years.
Lastly, on May 10, 1994, Nelson Mandela was inaugurated as the first black president of South Africa. This was significant because it was the first time South Africa had free multi-racial elections and Nelson Mandela, who was an advocate for peace, won by a large majority. This reflected that times were changing for the better.
I know these are scary times, many of us are unemployed, anxious and feel hopeless against the coronavirus. But remember, we will prevail just like our ancestors did. Soon, we will be in the streets (six feet apart, of course) celebrating a vaccine against the coronavirus. I hope this list will put things into perspective for you and remind you to never give up hope.