Key events of the 20th century
These are among the most important global events to happen annually since 1920
Between a pandemic, wars, technological developments, progress in civil rights, and breakthroughs in science and medicine, the old order has been swept away, sometimes giving way to freer forms of governing and sometimes not.
Centuries-old empires crumbled as new ideologies – from communism to fascism – took root in many parts of the world. Wars in the early part of the 20th century led to the end of the colonial world and gave birth to new nations. These wars also cost millions of lives and trillions of dollars. These are the most expensive wars in U.S. history.
Throughout the past century, technological innovations transformed our lives in ways we never dreamed. Progressive ideas also emerged and changed the world as women, African Americans, and the LGBTQ community demanded, and often won, equal rights – from the ratification of the 19th Amendment in the United States to the legalization of same-sex marriage in many countries around the world. Even so, recent civil rights protests tell us the fight for equality is not over.
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The COVID-19 pandemic that is ravaging the world in 2020 reminds us that for all of our scientific breakthroughs, we’re still vulnerable to deadly viruses that can shut down economies and disrupt society. People are hoping science can save Earth from the devastating changes to the climate that continue to imperil the ecosystems of our planet. In the coming years, natural disasters may have an increasingly impactful role on the course of history. Here are 26 disaster scenarios caused by climate change.
To determine the most important event the year you were born, 24/7 Tempo drew on research materials and media sources to compile its list. Deciding the most important event in a given year is by its nature a subjective exercise. In reaching our decisions, we chose the event that had the most far-reaching impact, even if it was not necessarily the most famous event in a given year.
The world’s most important event every year since 1920
1965: U.S. enters combat in Vietnam War
Although the U.S. had military advisors in South Vietnam starting in 1955, its first involvement in combat in the Vietnam War began a decade later year. President Lyndon Johnson sent 82,000 combat troops to the country and escalated the U.S. commitment to 100,000 troops by the end of July. Massive anti-war protests broke out in the U.S. as a result, continuing during the latter part of the 1960s and into the early 1970s as more than 58,000 American troops were killed in the war.
On Sept. 11, 2001, 19 terrorists connected to al-Qaeda and Osama bin Laden hijacked four airplanes. Two flown into the twin towers of the World Trade Center in New York City, one struck the Pentagon, and another crashed into a field in Pennsylvania. Overall, nearly 3,000 people died, including hundreds of firefighters, paramedics, and other emergency crew trying to evacuate the towers. On Oct. 7, the U.S. launched a coalition to oust the Taliban regime in Afghanistan and destroy bin Laden’s terrorist network during Operation Enduring Freedom.
At the end
These are, of course, far from the sole important events in American history. We’ve failed to include mention of innumerable coups, militaristic bungles, moral and legal battles, and much of what has made up the past century. Nevertheless, we hope that our turn to data in highlighting a number of the most iconic events has helped paint some historical context to the end of this turbulent year. In light of recent social and geopolitical unrest, perhaps it’ll serve as some comfort: our decade’s news may be alarming, but in the long arc of history, far from unique.
Thank you for staying with this post “historical events last 100 years” until the end.