June 17, 2008

Ten on Tuesday: Favorite National Moments

I haven't done Ten on Tuesday in a very long time but decided I'd give it a whirl again. This week's theme is "10 favorite moments in your country's history."

As I was compiling my list, I had to think hard about many important events that clearly changed history but which I would have to say didn't fit what I would want my "favorites" to be. In the end, I selected ten dates on which acts of humanity or innovation were realized. That is what I want the essence of the USA to be, and that is what people around the world want the USA to be. Somewhere recently we've lost our way among reality TV, gas prices, Girls Gone Wild, unrivaled military might, and the definition of "is." So thanks, Yano, for giving us a topic that reminds us of some good things we've accomplished in history. These are listed in no particular order.

  1. July 20, 1969: First human steps on the moon
    This is such an achievement of technology, innovation, perseverance, and sheer arrogance that it has to be among the greatest achievements of humankind ever. The amount of coordination, planning, vision, and work this took is simply astounding.
  2. August 18, 1920: 19th amendment ratified, extending Women's suffrage
    It's hard now to imagine that women at one time were not allowed to vote in this country. Ludicrous, right? But it was less than 100 years ago that Congress finally granted women the right to vote. This year we nearly selected our first woman presidential candidate.
  3. November 16, 1981: The day Luke married Laura
    This is the coveted "guest appearance" slot in my top ten; I had to select from many hopeful entries. I was in high school and had no idea who Luke and Laura were, but every girl in my school was, like, totally obsessed with their wedding. Over 30 million viewers tuned in to watch this episode of a frickin' soap opera. Although I'm no television history expert, I see this event as an indicator of some kind. Maybe the eventual downfall of the free world, or perhaps the Apocalypse.
  4. July 4, 1776: The day the Continental Congress declared independence
    This is the only criminal act of treason on my top 10 list. I decided I would pick only one event from this period despite the fact that I could have easily selected ten, some of which were also criminal acts. The Boston Tea Party. Patrick Henry's famous speech. The battle of Bunker Hill. The victory at Yorktown. Ratification of the Constitution. The list could go on and on.
  5. December 6, 1865: 13th amendment ratified, abolishing slavery
    How is it possible that anyone could ever justify, within their own conscience, the atrocity of slavery?
  6. 1959: Invention of the microchip
    In 1957, the editor of business books for Prentice Hall predicted, "I have traveled the length and breadth of this country and talked with the best people, and I can assure you that data processing is a fad that won't last out the year." How could he know that two years later the foundation of nearly all of today's technology would be invented?
  7. January, 1848: Gold discovered at Sutter's Mill in Coloma, California
    There is no telling how California would have grown or stagnated without the Gold Rush. Certainly, San Francisco would not today be the diverse, vibrant, crazy place it is today without the explosive, uncontrolled, totally unorganic growth in the 1850s.
  8. 1879: Thomas Edison perfects the light bulb
    I had always thought Edison invented the light bulb, but he actually bought a patent and then spent an ungodly amount of effort researching and perfecting it. When I found out the original inventors of the technique weren't even American, I almost removed this from my list. But I kept it in because of the way Edison achieved his 1200 hour light bulb: through sheer effort and dogged determination. It illustrates one of my favorite quotations of his: "Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work."
  9. May 10, 1869: Transcontinental railroad completed
    Probably a huge number of atrocities were perpetrated on the laborers who made this happen, but it still brought together the entire nation and allowed uninterrupted train travel from one ocean to the other.
  10. December 17, 1903: Wright Brothers fly at Kitty Hawk
    Flight was being attempted all over the world, but Orville and Wilbur made the first powered flight of a record 59 seconds over nearly 900 feet on this day.
There are so many other moments that could easily make my top ten. If you have a favorite moment I've left off my list, share it with a comment, or play your own Ten on Tuesday and let me know about it.


ShannonW said...

Nice compilation! I choose more recent events since I have more knowledge on the subject.

Valtool said...

Luke & Laura? ROTFL Nice list and thanks for the comment on mine. :)

pacatrue said...

Very nice list and well linked. Your California connection shows up with the Gold Rush. Not a criticism, but as a Southerner, western history pretty much just doesn't occur to me. Maybe I would have thought of the Louisiana Purchase instead.

Other fave moments might include Brown v Board of Education. Perhaps Franis and Crick's DNA if there's a single date one can pick there.

*jean* said...

Great list and I love it that your music choices don't blast me when I visited...thanks!

Ello - Ellen Oh said...

That was pretty cool! Very nice recitation! And I know you and I are the same age because I remember the hoopla over Luke and Laura. BLECH! I hate soap operas. Always have always will!

I think my list would include alot of legal milestones because the legal implications have so much ramifications on our lives.

PJD said...

shannon and valtool, thanks for coming by!

paca, Brown v Board of Education is certainly a good one. I'm not sure what the Franis and Crick's DNA is. Funny that my Cal connection appears strong... I toned down my New England connection by picking only one revolutionary war/colonial moment, otherwise it would have run away with me. I thought of the Louisiana Purchase as well, but I sort of wanted to stay away from the imperialist/manifest destiny aspect, though it is part of who this country is.

jean, thanks for visiting! I hate sites where music plays when you arrive. playlist.com has an option to make it not play automatically.

ello, glad I could bring back some good soap opera memories. :-) Do you remember the comedy Soap? I used to love it.

JaneyV said...

Nicely put together Pete!
Goodness I don't know if I could do this one - all the notable things in Ireland's history had to do with fighting the English - and as I married one and I've lived here 19 years - I would be conflicted - well a bit!

Francis Crick, as far as I know was English. He was a microbiologist who, along with James Watson (Watson and Crick) discovered the double helix nature of the DNA molecule. They shared the Nobel prize with another chap (whose name escapes me) in the early 60's. All genetics research is based on their work. (Although I seem to remember they ripped someone else's work off - such is the life of the science academic!)

How about the movies? Notably The Talkies. Surely Hollywood should be in there somewhere.

I've never seen General Hospital. Over here it was the Ozzie Soap Neighbours that had the wedding of the decade in the 1980's of Scott and Charlene (Kylie Minnogue and Jason Donavan)- a true cheese fest!

McKoala said...

Ah yes, Scott and Charlene, who could forget? And what about the revelation of the father of Michelle's baby on Eastenders?

Oh, yes. And there was some historical stuff in the real world too. I just can't remember any of it.

Teena in Toronto said...

Luke and Laura?! Ha!

I played too :)

Robin S. said...

Hi Pete,

Great list. I never got into that Luke & Laura stuff- but looks like this kind of crap has grown exponentially - so good choice!

Interesting - what paca said - about regional differences. I hadn't thought about that when reading your choices.

The moon landing was an amazing thing. I wonder sometimes if we have the will to dream big, and make it happen, any more. Worries me a bit.

Anonymous said...

Wonderful list! We had a couple identical answers. It is amazing how we define the history of our own country. Plus I love Luke and Laura!

PJD said...

jane, you're right about something Hollywood. Or perhaps music. Maybe Woodstock should have made my list...

teena & angela, I'll visit your lists today. Can't wait to see them.

robin--I do think we are able to dream big and accomplish great things. Just not with the current leadership. The current leadership is small minded and selfish. They think they are dreaming big by wanting to pound democracy into the middle east, but in reality they're playing wargames and fouling everything up.

Actually, now you've got me wondering if even the proper leadership can accomplish such daring goals. We have grown into such a partisan-minded society that even the noblest cause will be met with vocal opposition from the side that didn't propose it. Sad. I'm hoping our next President can be a true uniter, which is what Bush said he would be. The only thing he united was the Christian right against gays, scientists, and Muslims.

LA Nickers said...

Great list . . . . this was fu to read.