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What a way to end a historic year

Without a doubt, 2020 has, thus far with less than a month to go, been a year where we got far more than we bargained for.

I, for one, had such high hopes for the year. For starters, the year’s identification numbers were intriguing….2020. The last time we had matching sets of numbers was 1919. That year was also marred by a heath pandemic as the Spanish Flu accounted for 500 million infections and 50 million deaths worldwide from 1918 until 1920.

Without a doubt, the COVID-19 pandemic has served as the most dominant force in 2020. It has changed the daily lives and routines of people worldwide. We can only hope that the number of promising vaccines will work against that deadly virus while at the same time not causing us any major health issues via its side effects.

The year will also be long remembered for public outcries against racial injustice. Hopefully, at long last, we can put those issues of inequality behind us and move forward living as the way God intended….not a white race, not a Black race, but as a human race.

2020 began with fires raging in Australia. Later, the United States experienced a similar fate with wildfires torching millions of acres across our western states.

Unless you’ve already forgotten, but January also made us sad with the loss of former NBA great Kobe Bryant. He and his daughter, along with several others, were tragically killed in a helicopter crash in California.

We also lost the 2020 Summer Olympics, planned for Tokyo. I’m keeping my fingers and toes crossed that the games will go on in the summer of 2021.

We also went through a presidential impeachment trial in the US House and subsequent acquittal in the Senate.

While on the subject of our nation’s top elected leader, let’s not forget that 2020 gave us the strangest-ever, and history-making, presidential election. The winning candidate, Joe Biden, collected the most-ever votes (over 81 million) in the history of our nation, while reigning POTUS Donald Trump received 11 million more votes than he had when he won in 2016, but still lost his reelection bid. Strange….but true!

Major League Baseball played its shortest regular season ever this year, 60 games compared to the normal 162, and still managed to deliver a thrilling post-season.

Even the NBA and the NHL held games and crowned champions….all while hunkered down in a “bubble” (arena), each in a single city.

A movie I never heard of – “Parasite” – swept the 2020 Academy Awards, winning Best Picture, Best Director, Best Original Screenplay, and Best International Feature Film. It was the first time that a non-English language film captured the Oscar for Best Picture.

2020 also gave us murder hornets (in Washington state); a huge explosion that leveled thousands of buildings and killed 190 people in Beirut; and the death of legendary Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

It was also historic in the number of hurricanes in the Atlantic Basin. By Sept. 18 (with still a little over two months to go before the traditional end of the season on Nov. 30), we had already gone through the original list of 22 names and then experienced nine more using names from the Greek alphabet.

As we wind down a year where so many varied, and historic, events have unfolded, there appears to be at least one more left to witness……a celestial phenomenon that no one alive today has ever seen.

On Monday, Dec. 21, the first day of the winter solstice, Jupiter and Saturn will closely align and their combined light will bear a striking resemblance to the “Star of Bethlehem.” Those two giants planets haven’t aligned this closely in the night sky since March 4, 1226.

According to astronomy experts, what we will witness on Dec. 21 is known as a conjunction. That’s when two objects in space appear to be close to one another, as observed from Earth. However, those objects still remain hundreds of millions of miles apart.

While they will not suddenly appear as a brilliant single source of light, this particular conjunction is being compared to the Biblical story regarding the birth of Jesus. It was then that three wise men used a bright star in the night sky to direct them to a simple manger full of straw in a horse stable in the city of Bethlehem where they helped welcome the birth of Jesus Christ.

Perhaps this conjunction is God’s way of ending 2020 on a high note and allowing us to experience “peace on Earth, good will to men.”

Cal Bryant is the Editor of Roanoke-Chowan Publications. Contact him at cal.bryant@r-cnews.com or 252-332-7207.

About Cal Bryant

Cal Bryant, a 40-year veteran of the newspaper industry, serves as the Editor at Roanoke-Chowan Publications, publishers of the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald, Gates County Index, and Front Porch Living magazine.

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