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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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?
- 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?
- 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.
- 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."
- 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.
- 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.