As this year’s graduates look forward, we also reflect on some noteworthy events that occurred during their lives. Most of this year’s grads were born in 2004 and 2005.
The final episode of “Friends” airs. The sitcom was launched in 1994 and became one of the most popular TV shows ever. Facebook launches as a social networking site. Former president Ronald Reagan dies at age 93. Massachusetts becomes the first state to legalize same-sex marriage.
Hurricane Katrina strikes Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana, killing 1,600 people. YouTube goes online. Police arrest Dennis Rader, the BTK killer, after 31 years.
The Blu-ray disc format is released. In one of the biggest gifts ever, Warren Buffet donates $30 billion to the Gates Foundation. Ohio voters pass a statewide smoking ban for public places. The Greene Towne Center opens in Beavercreek.
Nancy Pelosi is elected as the first female speaker of the House of Representatives. Scouting marks its 100th anniversary. The first iPhone is released, changing the face of personal technology for years to come. Thirty-two students and professors are killed in the Virginia Tech campus shooting.
A global financial crisis takes hold, as a U.S. mortgage meltdown leads to an international banking crisis and stock market crashes. Unemployment rises in the following years, and some foreign governments default. In September, the remnants of Hurricane Ike blast the Dayton area with high winds, leaving many without power for a week. The GM Moraine Assembly plant closes in December.
Barack Obama becomes the United States’ first Black president. Michael Jackson dies at age 50. Sonia Sotomayor becomes the first Hispanic person to serve on the United States Supreme Court. A conservative Tea Party movement calls for smaller government. Casinos are approved by Ohio voters.
The Navy ends a ban of women on submarines. Thirty-three Chilean miners trapped underground during in a mining accident are rescued. The Medal of Honor is awarded to U.S. Army Staff Sergeant Salvatore Giunta in the first time it has been awarded since the Vietnam War.
Osama bin Laden is killed during an American military mission in Pakistan. The U.S. Constitution is read aloud for the first time at the U.S. House of Representatives. The Space Shuttle Atlantis touches down at Kennedy Space Center, ending the 30-year shuttle program, which began with Columbia in 1981.
England’s Queen Elizabeth II celebrates her 60th year on the throne. San Francisco adopts a $10 hourly minimum wage, making it the highest in the country. Whitney Houston dies at age 48. A gunman kills 26 people, including 20 young students, at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn. Snapchat takes off, becoming one of the most popular messaging apps for teens.
The city of Detroit files for bankruptcy, as the poster child for struggling cities. Pope Benedict XVI resigns. Jorge Mario Bergoglio is elected as the first Jesuit pope and chooses the name Francis. Michele Knight, Amanda Berry and Georgina DeJesus are found in Cleveland after being held captive for more than 10 years by Ariel Castro.
Robin Williams commits suicide at age 63. The Dayton Flyers basketball team reaches the Elite Eight, equaling their best showing in 30 years. The International Monetary Fund announces that China has overtaken the U.S. as the world’s No. 1 economy. The police shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo., energizes the Black Lives Matter movement, as more incidents of racial tension with police follow.
Ohio State’s football team wins the national championship in January under coach Urban Meyer. Dzhokhar Tsarnaev is found guilty for his role in the Boston marathon bombing. CBS broadcasts the final episode of “The Late Show with David Letterman,” ending its 22-year run. ISIS strikes on different continents, including an attack in Paris that claims 130 lives.
Millions of people wander outside trying to “catch” Pokemon on their phone, as Pokemon Go becomes the latest sudden technology wonder. Donald Trump is elected president, defeating Hillary Clinton after a tumultuous campaign. Celebrity deaths come by the dozens, from Prince and David Bowie, to Muhammad Ali and Fidel Castro, to John Glenn and Nancy Reagan.
Months after he was suspended, Tom Brady leads a record comeback to help the New England Patriots beat the Atlanta Falcons in the Super Bowl. The opioid epidemic, long a problem in Ohio, gets widespread national attention. A flood of reports of sexual misbehavior by high-profile men leads to the #MeToo movement, as women publicize just how common the problem is.
After the Feb. 14 Parkland, Fla., school shooting, students around the United States begin a new level of activism, calling for stricter gun laws and better school safety. Brett Kavanaugh is confirmed to the Supreme Court after a contentious fight. Ohio legislators change diploma rules in December, six months before high school graduations. Sears files for bankruptcy and Toys R Us closes all of its stores.
A Memorial Day tornado outbreak ravages the Dayton area, hitting Trotwood, Dayton, Beavercreek and other areas very hard. A man opens fire in the Oregon District on Aug. 4, killing nine people before police kill him. Elsewhere, the famed Notre Dame Cathedral burns in Paris, the U.S. women’s soccer team wins the World Cup, and a college admissions cheating scandal shows how far some wealthy parents will go to get their children into elite universities.
The Senate acquits President Trump of impeachment charges. The Dayton Flyers are ranked No. 3 in the nation in men’s basketball and then … the COVID-19 pandemic changes the world in mid-March. Businesses close, sports and events are canceled, schools move to remote learning. Hospitals fill up and thousands die. Government stimulus plans offer direct payments as well as rental aid and enhanced unemployment benefits. People argue over what public health steps should be in place. On May 25, George Floyd is killed by a Minneapolis police officer, sparking worldwide protests for racial justice, including many in Dayton. In the fall, Joe Biden is elected president, over Donald Trump, amid record voter turnout and false claims of voter fraud. Kamala Harris becomes the first woman vice president of the United States.
On Jan. 6, supporters of Trump storm the U.S. Capitol, briefly threatening the peaceful transfer of power. This is also the year of living through COVID. Those schools that were still remote welcome students back; vaccines become widely available; health and mask rules waver back and forth as COVID outbreaks surge and wane; the 2020 Olympics are held after a year delay. Supply chain issues result in shortages of many products. The Dayton Arcade reopens after 30 years. The U.S. withdraws from Afghanistan in chaotic scenes.
The year starts with a huge COVID spike after the holidays, with many hospitalizations and deaths. The Cincinnati Bengals make a surprise run to the Super Bowl and fall just short against the Rams. Ketanji Brown Jackson becomes the first Black woman on the Supreme Court. Russia attacks Ukraine, the stock market tumbles, and inflation hits hard, sending gas and food prices higher. State elections are complicated, as Ohio leaders can’t decide on legislative maps, but locals Nan Whaley and Mike DeWine advance to the November governor’s race, with DeWine ultimately winning in November.
Buffalo Bills safety Damar Hamlin goes down while playing against the Cincinnati Bengals in cardiac arrest, though he has since been cleared to play football. The scene played out on national television. Kevin McCarthy was elected Speaker of the U.S. House after 15 rounds of votes, when most speakers usually are elected in one round. The Mega Millions jackpot tipped over $1 billion.