Editor's note: This story was first published Dec. 18. We're bringing it back today because it's the last day of 2018!
WASHINGTON (CIRCA) — The world is set to finish another trip around the sun soon. Its inhabitants witnessed celebratory highs and historic lows in the year of 2018: privacy scandals implicating Silicon Valley's bigwigs, the deadliest high school mass shooting in the United States and the remarkable recovery of 13 Thai natives trapped in a cave. Hope for future scientific discovery on Mars united people across countries, while a decades-old political fight about illegal immigration renewed division at the U.S.-Mexico border.
The year 2018 also saw the loss of notable statesmen, such as Arizona Sen. John McCain, 41st U.S. President George H.W. Bush and former United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan. Discussions about suicide and mental health came to the forefront of our collective conversation after influential chef and documentarian Anthony Bourdain and designer Kate Spade took their own lives just days apart in June.
Sprinkled among the moments of grief, there was light and love. Meghan Markle, a previously married American actress, dismantled institutional tradition in England by tying the knot with Prince Harry in May. The royal family got bigger after Kate Middleton, the Duchess of Cambridge, gave birth to her third child, Prince Louis of Cambridge.
Humanity came together as Mother Nature shook the environment. In April, the Pu'u 'O'o crater on Hawaii's Kiluaea volcano suddenly collapsed. That event created an opportunity for a new channel of lava to open up and travel 10 miles down rift until it found a weak spot within the Earth's surface to release its energy. In a matter of days, some two dozen fissures were created and forced the evacuations of many living in Leilani Estates on Hawaii's Big Island.
Most people run away from lava. This man makes a living by chasing it.
Hurricane Michael broke weather records in early October, becoming the first Category 4 storm to land in the Florida Panhandle and the strongest storm to make landfall in the continental U.S. since Hurricane Andrew blasted Florida in 1992. Meanwhile, in September, Hurricane Florence dumped more than 30 inches of rain on parts of North Carolina and South Carolina.
Representation of a variety of minority groups reached new peaks this year. Marvel's "Black Panther," which contained a predominantly African-American cast, surpassed "Titantic" on the big screen, becoming the 10th movie to gross over $1.3 billion worldwide. In print, 22-year-old snowboarder Brenna Huckaby became the first amputee to be featured in the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue. Recently, Angela Ponce broke barriers when she walked across the Miss Universe stage as the first openly transgender woman to participate in the international competition.
In business, the Amazon effect continued to ripple across the country, forcing former retail giants such as Sears, Kmart and Toys R Us to close their stores. Amazon's influence will only grow in the coming years, after it announced in November that the company's second headquarters are going to be split between a portion of Arlington, Virginia, and Long Island City in New York.