Amid a year filled with turmoil and tragedy, here are the 6 most uplifting historic moments from the year

SpaceX NASA

  • 2020 has largely been defined by tragedy, with a pandemic that resulted in the deaths of millions across the world. 
  • But the year was also filled with uplifting, and even some historic moments. 
  • Here are six hope-filled memories that made 2020 a little less awful. 
  • Visit Insider's homepage for more stories.

The year 2020, for many, was defined by tragedy and turmoil — a global pandemic, countless deaths and tragedies, and a hectic US presidential election, to name a few. However, the year marred by mishaps also brought about some accomplishments and inspiring moments.

Here are five of the most historic and uplifting events of 2020:

1. SpaceX launched two NASA astronauts into space

Elon Musk celebrates after the launch of a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket and Crew Dragon spacecraft on NASA's SpaceX Demo-2 mission to the International Space Station from NASA's Kennedy Space Center on May 30, 2020.
REUTERS/Steve Nesius

SpaceX CEO Elon Musk made history in May, launching two people into orbit for the first time since the private company was founded in 2002.

NASA astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley became the first Americans to liftoff from US soil in an American rocket for the first time since July 2011. 

"It is absolutely an honor to be part of this huge effort to get the United States back in the launch business," Hurley said minutes before liftoff.

2. COVID-19 vaccines were produced in record time

Dado Ruvic/Reuters

The COVID-19 pandemic has completely changed the way people all across the world go about their daily lives. It infected nearly 80 million people and killed more than 1.7 million people worldwide. The ferocity of the virus is partly what prompted the worldwide effort to expedite the development of a vaccine. 

A Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine is already being administered in the US and elsewhere around the world and Moderna received emergency use authorization from the US Food and Drug Administration on December 18. Normally, it takes many years to research, develop, manufacture, approve, and distribute a safe and effective vaccine. 

3. Vaccine rollout

JACOB KING/POOL/AFP via Getty Images

While the creation of a new vaccine in record time was a feat all its own, this year saw people in several countries begin to receive vaccinations against COVID-19, paving the earliest steps for a path back to some normality. 

The United Kingdom became the first Western country to begin vaccinating the elderly after the country's health authorities approved the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine on December 2. Margaret Keenan, a 90-year-old grandmother became the first person in the West to receive a COVID-19 vaccine outside of clinical trials. 

A few weeks after vaccination efforts began in the UK, the US also approved the vaccine developed by Pfizer and began inoculating healthcare workers. In Indiana, healthcare workers were so eager to get vaccinated they broke the state's registration system before shipments of the vaccine had even arrived in the state.

4. The "most-democratic" US election in American history 

President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris in Wilmington, Delaware, on November 7, 2020. They claimed victory as President Donald Trump refused to concede.
JIM WATSON/AFP via Getty Images

The 2020 US election cycle was filled with division and disinformation from Presidenti Donald Trump and his allies, along with baseless claims of fraud, and post-election lawsuits attempting to overturn countless ballots. Despite the turmoil, election officials from the federal to the state and local levels called it the "most-democratic" election in US history.

President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris won the election with 306 electoral votes. This race also saw record voter turnout, with the help of mail-in-voting expansions across several states. 

There were a record 101 million pre-election ballots, with an estimated 159 million votes cast altogether in the 2020 election, the most the US has seen in over 100 years.  

Biden also won the most votes of any candidate in history, with more than 80 million. 

5. Kamala Harris makes history as the first female, Black, and Asian-American vice president-elect

Americans celebrated Harris's vice-presidential nomination and her subsequent win.

Harris, who graduated from Howard University, is also the first alumna from a historically Black college or university to be on a major-party ticket.

"Bringing Black and South Asian representation to the table, her lived experiences as a woman of color and a daughter of immigrants will offer a point of view in the White House the likes of which this country has never seen," Christian Nunes, the president of the National Organization for Women, told Insider.

6. "Parasite" won the Oscar for best picture

The ram-don scene in "Parasite."
Neon/CJ Entertainment

The film "Parasite" made history in February by becoming the first non-English-language film to win the best picture at the Oscars. 

Parasite also won the awards for best director and best original screenplay, best international feature film, and was nominated for best production design and best film editing. 

The nomination was one of many this year that highlighted big diversity accomplishments in Hollywood. In September, actress Zendaya became the youngest drama lead actress to win an Emmy for her role in HBO's "Euphoria."

Actress and musician Akwafina also became the first person of Asian descent to win a lead actress Golden Globe Award for her role in "The Farewell."

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