Recall that on December 26, 2004 the giant tsunami struck areas around the Indian Ocean set off by the earth’s most powerful earthquake in forty years. Thousands were made homeless and more thousands lost their lives in Indonesia, Sri Lanka,Thailand and other coastal provinces.
The destruction was unbelievable. The world looked at television reports and saw the wall of water toppling everything and everyone in its path.
Relief efforts for the tsunami victims and the lands touched by the disaster filled much of 2005, with President Bush appointing former presidents Clinton and Bush to head efforts for tsunami relief. Later the same two special appointees continued to make appeals for hurricane relief funds and volunteers to aid in clean-up.
It would not be a misnomer to call the year 2005 the Year of Disasters. Hurricanes were on the rampage. From A through Z and even through part of the Greek alphabet, the tropical storms started with Arlene that came ashore on the Florida panhandle. Katrina was the worst of these natural weather phenomena, one that played havoc with the Gulf Coast and especially with New Orleans, striking there August 29. Hard on Katrina’s heels came Hurricane Rita hitting the Texas Coast and adding more torrential rains in already devastated New Orleans. Relief efforts met with many complications, and Americans watched the wretchedness from live TV news coverage.
Add to the hurricanes and tropical storms the mudslides in California and raging fires in the western states and disasters in 2005 reached unprecedented magnitudes.
In Georgia we were mesmerized by reports of Judge Barnes, a court reporter and a sheriff’s deputy who were shot and killed at the Fulton County Courthouse as inmate Brian Nichols escaped and went on a shooting rampage. He shot another man in his getaway. A day later came the breaking story of Nichols’ holding Ashley Smith in her apartment, her escape and Nichols’ arrest a day later. The book “Unlikely Angel” tells of Smith’s ordeal at the hands of the killer.
Several deaths occurred in 2005. Pope John Paul II died April 2, 2005. The world watched and listened to his funeral. Crowds gathered at the Vatican and around the world to pay tribute to this long-time spiritual leader.
In Florida Terri Schiavo died on March 18, 2005. Court battles had preceded her death about removing feeding tubes from the badly brain-damaged young woman.
Chief Justice of the US Supreme Court, Honorable William H. Rehnquist, died after a long battle with thyroid cancer. Long-time ABC nightly news anchor Peter Jennings died with lung cancer. Cancer was declared the nation’s number one killer of those age 85 and younger in the United States, replacing the record held previously by heart disease. American playwright Arthur Miller who wrote “Death of a Salesman” (and other dramas) died February 11. Monaco’s Prince Rainier died April 6 and his son Prince Albert II succeeded his father as the leader of Monaco.
Gasoline and natural gas prices sky-rocketed, as well as diesel fuel and other oils. The bankruptcy of United Airlines and Delta Airlines was much in the news. The American economy continued to be unstable throughout the year.
The war in Iraq continued with American military and other deaths rising from insurgent attacks and suicide bombers. General public opinion regarding withdrawal of American troops and the escalating cost of the war were hot topics of the year. The largest number of American troops killed in the Iraqi War at one time occurred August 3, 2005 when a Marine Reserve Unit from Ohio suffered fourteen dead.
Reading this abbreviated list of happenings in 2005 leaves us with a dismal outlook. “Was there anything good about 2005?” we ask. We have all been touched in one way or another by the news of 2005. In many cases, troubles have come close to our own homes, our families. As we walk through the year, adding many more items to the above notations, we should remember that our own attitude determines to a great extent how we take trials as they come. “To balance the list,” wrote Ellen Goodman in a column in The Boston Globe, “we ought to walk through the rooms of our lives, not looking for flaws, but for potential.” Many good and helpful deeds occurred during 2005. When occasions arose for help, Americans proved they were capable of offering aid generously and with compassion. And that made a tremendous difference.
c2006 by Ethelene Dyer Jones; published Jan. 5, 2006 in The Union Sentinel, Blairsville, GA. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.