Top Stories of 2009
A look back at some of the biggest news to hit the headlines this year
The New York Yankees celebrate after winning the World Series in November. (Photo: Kathy Willens/AP Images)
To mark the close of a history-making year, join Scholastic News in taking a look back at some of the most notable news stories of 2009.
A Historic Inauguration
On January 20, Barack Obama became the 44th U.S. President—and the country’s first African-American chief executive. Obama’s swearing-in ceremony drew a record crowd of 1.8 million people. That made it the biggest event ever held in Washington, D.C. The crowd stood for hours in freezing cold temperatures to witness the event. “We gather because we have chosen hope over fear, unity of purpose over conflict and discord,” the new President told the nation.
A New Justice
In May, President Obama chose Judge Sonia Sotomayor as his nominee to sit on the U.S. Supreme Court, the most powerful court in the land. Sotomayor replaced retiring Justice David Souter and became the first Hispanic, and the third woman, to sit on the high court. There are only nine Supreme Court justices. All of them serve for as long as they’d like. Together, their decisions carry the weight of law. So Obama’s choice of Sotomayor could affect U.S. laws for decades to come. The U.S. Senate confirmed Obama’s choice, and she was sworn into office on August 8.
Moon Walk’s 40th Anniversary
On July 20, 1969, Apollo 11 astronaut Neil Armstrong became the first human to set foot on the moon. “That’s one small step for [a] man, one giant leap for mankind,” he said. About 600 million people worldwide watched on television. Putting men on the moon was a huge accomplishment for the United States. The success of Apollo 11—and later Apollo flights—increased our knowledge of the moon, the sun, and Earth. NASA, the U.S. government space agency, observed the 40th anniversary of this event by discussing plans for future exploration. They include setting up a base on the moon and making a journey to Mars.
Tough Times at Home
For all of 2009, the U.S. economy has been in a recession, or sharp downturn. Millions of Americans lost their jobs. More than 1 million families lost their homes because they were unable to make their monthly payments on loans. President Obama moved to reverse this downturn. In February, he signed into law what he called “the most sweeping economic recovery package in our [nation’s] history.” The law pumped hundreds of billions of dollars into the U.S. economy over several months. It was intended to help create jobs, help companies stay in business, and lower taxes for the middle class—but many people thought the money spent was too much. Unemployment was beginning to ease just a bit by the end of the year.
At the same time, Obama and Congress went to work on improving the country’s ailing health-care system. The President and many members of Congress are trying to create new laws that will reduce health-care costs and allow more people to get health insurance. No law has yet been passed.
As Sasha and Malia Obama waited for their dad, the President, to keep his promise of a getting them a puppy, a nation of pet lovers waited with them. In April, both the girls and the American people were rewarded for their patience when the new First Pet, a Portuguese water dog named Bo, moved into the White House.
A Scare From the New Flu
This year’s seasonal flu bug came with an unwelcome friend—a new strain of flu that scientists call H1N1. H1N1’s rapid spread in several countries last spring caused fears of a massive outbreak. A vaccine for H1N1 is now available. Health officials have also stressed that prevention is key: Cough and sneeze into a tissue or the bend of your arm, they advise, and wash your hands often.
The first decade of the new century has been a time of war for Americans. The U.S. has been fighting in Afghanistan since 2001 and in Iraq since 2003. This year, with violence decreasing in Iraq, President Obama announced plans to pull out all U.S. troops from that country by the end of 2011. In Afghanistan, where violence is on the rise, the President plans to send an additional 30,000 troops. The goal there is to defeat the Taliban, an extreme group that has supported Osama bin Laden and his terrorist group, Al Qaeda. Bin Laden and Al Qaeda are responsible for the terrorist attacks against the U.S. in 2001.
World Series Wins, Big and Little
The New York Yankees won the World Series for the first time since 2000, beating last year’s champions, the Philadelphia Phillies. Victory was especially sweet for the Yankees and their fans because 2009 marked the team’s first season in the new Yankee Stadium. And in the Little League World Series, California’s Chula Vista team won the championship, coming from behind to beat the Chinese Taipei team from Taoyuan, Taiwan
Photos, clockwise from top left: Judge Sonia Sotomayor during the Senate hearing to confirm her appointment as Supreme Court Justice; Sasha and Malia Obama’s puppy, Bo; the H1N1 virus; astronaut Buzz Aldrin, during his moon walk with Neil Armstrong in July, 1969; U.S. troops in Afghanistan; Barack Obama takes the oath of office, becoming the 44th President of the United States; Chula Vista celebrates after winning the Little League World series championship in Williamsport, Pennsylvania.
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