With natural disasters and mass shootings of historic proportions, 2017 was a horrific year for some, possibly worse than 2016. But there were also stories of kindness and courage, moments of solidarity, plus some good news worth celebrating.
Adorable toddlers crash a BBC Skype interview
Robert E. Kelly, a political science professor at Pusan National University in South Korea, was on BBC via Skype to discuss South Korea's impeachment scandal when his children waddled into the shot. Seconds later, Kelly’s wife rushed into the room and dragged them out while the children protested. The interview quickly went viral, mostly because it was “terribly cute.” “She was in a hippity-hoppity mood that day,” Kelly said of his four-year-old daughter.
Strangers form a human chain to rescue swimmers at Florida Beach
When powerful rip currents swept away 10 people at Panama City Beach in Florida, about 80 beachgoers formed an incredible human chain to attempt a rescue. “They linked up wrists, legs, arms. If they were there, they were helping,” said Ursey, one of the stranded swimmers. All swimmers made it back to the shore safely after an hour or so, to a beach full of people applauding.
A Marine veteran lost both legs in Afghanistan. Then, in November, he completed 31 marathons in 31 days.
On Veterans Day 2017, Marine veteran Rob Jones completed his goal of running 31 marathons in 31 days, starting his first one in London and finishing on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. He has raised more than $125,000 for veterans charities. “I’m thankful for living in a country that is worth that sacrifice that people make,” he said.
Tragedies, though horrific, brought out the best in humanity
Houston Texans defensive end J.J. Watt raised more than $37 million for flooding victims of Hurricane Harvey. When flooding trapped bakers at a Mexican bakery for two days, they decided to bake hundreds of loaves of bread for Harvey victims. Houston’s Mattress Mack turned his store into a shelter (then in December, sent beds to victims of California wildfires). A chef cooked close to 2 million meals for Puerto Ricans after Hurricane Maria devastated the island. A Florida nun went viral after she was spotted using a chainsaw to help clear debris left by Hurricane Irma. In Maine, a mystery man paid for 58 strangers’ meals to honor Las Vegas shooting victims. A Marine veteran commandeered a truck to save the lives of dozens of Las Vegas shooting victims, then was awarded a free truck. Jonathan Smith herded about 30 people to safety before getting shot himself in Las Vegas.
These are only a few of the hundreds of important stories of courage, kindness and selflessness.
Lastly, the New York Times found Harvey and Irma Schluter, a Spokane couple married for 75 years. Never had they seen two major hurricanes that were days apart named after them: “I don’t know how they’ve done that, to have a Harvey and Irma.”
We have a royal engagement!
Prince Harry is engaged to actress Meghan Markle, a biracial, Jewish-American divorcee who has starred in "Suits." It’s a historical engagement, given that the last time a British royal wanted to marry a divorcee, he had to give up his throne. They’ve been dating for a little more than a year and the fact that Markle is originally from Los Angeles basically made America swoon at their fairy tale.
#MeToo movement becomes Time’s person of the year
Time magazine named the #MeToo movement its Person of the Year 2017, featuring men and women who have spoken out against sexual harassment. “The Silence Breakers,” as TIME called them, accused many powerful men in almost every industry, starting with Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein; TV show giants like Charlie Rose, Matt Lauer, Bill O’Reilly; many actors, including Kevin Spacey, Danny Masterson, Ben Affleck and Louis C.K.; media industry people including Garrison Keillor, David Sweeney, Michael Oreskes and Glenn Thrush; and politicians like John Conyers Jr., Al Franken, Roy Moore, former President George H.W. Bush and President Trump.
The Internet united in solidarity and got this Nevada teen free Wendy's nuggets for a whole year
Sixteen-year-old Carter Wilkinson of Reno, Nevada, broke the record for most retweeted message on Twitter with more than 3.6 million retweets after Wendy's challenged him to get 18 milllion retweets for a whole year's worth of free chicken nuggets. Even though he's still about 15 million retweets short, Wilkinson ended up getting free chicken nuggets, short-lived internet fame and the nickname "the Nugget Kid".
This year's total solar eclipse briefly made us forget all our worries
Many Americans from coast to coast stopped what they were doing and looked up at the sky to witness a total eclipse of the sun on August 21. The path of totality passed through potions of 14 states from Oregon to South Carolina, but people could see partial eclipse from anywhere around the country. The next solar eclipse will take place in 2024.
Saudi Arabia is letting women drive, starting in 2018
Saudi Arabia, the only country in the world where women legally can't drive, announced in September that it would let women get drivers' licenses and drive freely. The first protest against the policy took place in 1990 when 47 women got behind the wheel and drove around the Saudi capital, Riyadh, then were arrested. The ultraconservative kingdom has been making progress in terms of women's rights; in 2015, women were allowed to vote and participate in local council politics.
Australia votes to legalize same-sex marriage
Australia's Parliament voted to legalize same-sex marriage in December, becoming the 25th country to do so. This comes after years of debate and a few months after a national postal survey found that about 61 percent of the country was in favor of marriage equality. "This is Australia: fair, diverse, loving and filled with respect for everyone," said Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull. The gallery erupted into the chorus of "I Am Australian" after the parliament votes.
More goodness in the world:
She was undocumented most of her life. Now this woman is a state lawmaker.
This coffee shop is helping refugees get started in America.
A woman with Down syndrome became the first to compete in a Miss USA state pageant