Steve Martaindale

Author of the JP Weiscarver Mystery Series

Remember December

Washington crossing the Delaware

Forever, it seems, I’ve had a problem with the multitude of year-end wrap-ups of the top stories of the year.

Not that I mind looking back and remembering but because they almost always are published in December. How can you list the tops stories of 2017 when there remains the better part of a month?

I understand why they do it. News slows down during the winter holiday season and the roundup gives reporters something to do. To a smaller degree, maybe people are more likely to have reading time at home.

This morning, I came across Flipboard.com’s article, “2017: Year in Review.” To be certain, there is plenty to round out a full year’s worth of notable news.

There’s the amazing #MeToo movement and the big names it brought down, the nuclear threats between North Korea and the United States, Colin Kaepernick and others risking careers to speak up for persecuted people, the investigation into Russian interference in our election, hurricanes left and right, 59 people shot and killed in Las Vegas, 27 people shot and killed in Sutherland Springs, 9 people shot and killed in Plano, 8 people shot and killed in Bogue Chitto, 6 people shot and killed in Orlando, 6 people shot and killed in Corning, 5 people shot and killed in La Madera, 5 people shot and killed in Houston, 5 people shot and killed in Rothschild, 5 people shot and killed in Fort Lauderdale, 5 people shot and killed in Hubbard, and 32 different locations where 4 people were shot and killed.

And much more. And we still have 25 days to go.

To be fair, let’s take a look back and see if anything particularly newsworthy has ever happened the latter part of the calendar year.

Dec. 31, 1879, Thomas Edison first publicly demonstrated his electric incandescent light.

Dec. 30, 1922, Vladimir I. Lenin proclaimed the establishment of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics.

Dec. 29, 1890, the Wounded Knee massacre took place in South Dakota as some 300 Sioux Indians were killed by U.S. troops.

Dec. 28, 1832, John C. Calhoun became the first vice president of the United States to resign.

Dec. 27, 1968, Apollo 8 and its three astronauts made a safe, nighttime splashdown in the Pacific after its trip circling the moon.

Dec. 26, 2004, more than 230,000 people, mostly in southern Asia, were killed by a 100-foot-high tsunami triggered by a 9.1-magnitude earthquake beneath the Indian Ocean.

Dec. 25, 1776, Gen. George Washington crossed the Delaware River with 5,400 troops to surprise a Hessian force celebrating Christmas at their winter quarters in Trenton, N.J.

Dec. 24, 1979, the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan, under the pretext of upholding the Soviet-Afghan Friendship Treaty of 1978.

Dec. 23, 1968, the captain and 83-man crew of the U.S. intelligence gathering ship, USS Pueblo, were released after 11 months imprisonment by the government of North Korea.

Dec. 22, 1978, John Wayne Gacy confessed to police to killing more than two dozen boys and young men and burying their bodies under his suburban Chicago home.

Dec. 21, 1988, Pan Am Flight 103 from London to New York exploded in midair over Lockerbie, Scotland, killing all 243 passengers and 16 crew members, as well as 11 Lockerbie residents on the ground.

Dec. 20, 1989, the United States invaded Panama.

Dec. 19, 1907, the Darr mine of Pittsburgh Coal Co. in Jacobs Creek, Penn., exploded, killing 239 workers.

Dec. 18, 1865, slavery is abolished in the United States as the 13th Amendment is formally adopted into the U.S. Constitution.

Dec. 17, 1903, near Kitty Hawk, N.C., Orville and Wilbur Wright made the first successful flight in history of a self-propelled, heavier-than-air aircraft.

Dec. 16, 1960, two airplanes collided over New York City, killing 134 people on the planes and on the ground.

Dec. 15, 1791, Virginia became the last state to ratify the Bill of Rights, making the first 10 amendments to the Constitution law.

Dec. 14, 2012, a man shot and killed his mother at their Newtown, Conn., home and then drove to nearby Sandy Hook Elementary School, where he killed 20 first-graders and six school employees.

Dec. 13, 2003, former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein was captured, found hiding in a hole near his hometown of Tikrit.

Dec. 12, 1989, Leona Helmsley, who once quipped that “only the little people pay taxes,” received a four-year prison sentence and a $7.1 million tax fraud fine in New York.

Dec. 11, 2008, financier Bernard Madoff was charged with masterminding a long-running Ponzi scheme later estimated to involve around $65 billion.

Dec. 10, 1898, the Treaty of Paris officially ended the Spanish-American War, ceding to the United States Puerto Rico and Guam.

Dec. 9, 1950, Harry Gold, for his role in passing top-secret information to Soviet agents, was sentenced to 30 years in jail.

Dec. 8, 1980, former Beatle John Lennon was shot and killed outside his apartment building on the West Side of New York City.

Dec. 7, 1941, Japanese warplanes bombed the U.S. naval base at Pearl Harbor, propelling the United States into World War II.

There’s bound to be a top story or two among those.

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