You’re Friendly Neighborhood List of Things That Happened In America(Part 2)

Previously in 2013…

5.  Marathon Men

Every April, runners from across the world gather in Boston, Massechusetts to compete in the Boston Marathon.  Every year, runners attempt to test their personal limitations, abilities and endurance running the 26 miles of the competition.  This year, however, the personal strength and fortitude of all participants were pushed to the limit when two Chechen brothers planted and detonated crude explosives at the end as runners cross the finish line.  Over 260 were injured.  Three, Krystle Marie Campbell, Lu Lingzi and Martin William Richard were killed at the scene.  The nation was in shock.  The city of Boston, one of the largest cities in the United States, came to a stand still.  By now, Americans have been exposed to the idea of terrorism and terrorist acts.  We hardly are exposed to these events, but now.

Days later, a nation still look for answers, reports of a shooting in the Boston area make immediate headlines.  This time, a simple act of terror is more than what we find.  First reports of are a shootout.  Within minutes, there are reports of car chases, abductions and hostage situations.  All at the same time.  While the city of Boston, which came to a standstill after the attacks earlier in the week, the perpetrators never left the area.  The good guys caught up with them.  And it did NOT end quietly.  What broke out was a real-life season of the television 24.  From that night which begin with a car-jacking and ended later the next day with the apprehension of the last suspect alive, I, like most other Americans were as glued to our televisions as we were watching the exploits of Jack Bauer every Monday Night.  And much like those nights, the good guys won in the end.

Stay strong, Boston.

4.  Get “Out” The Vote II: Wedding Bans

2013 begin with an event that would highlight a reoccurring theme throughout the year.  On the first day of the year, Maryland, who’s voters approved Same Sex Marriage, would enact the law giving marriage equality for all, allowing for gay and lesbian couples to wed.  However, it did not stop there.  Within months, Rhode Island, Delaware and Minnesota would all legalize gay marriage.  This set the stage for the second decision made by the United States Supreme Court.  On June 26, the Supreme Court struck down Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act as unconstitutional.  This would allow for same sex couples to be able to receive full benefits enjoyed by all other married couples.  To make the day even greater, the Supreme Court would also rule that California’s Proposition 8 did not have legal standing in federal court.  California would be the fifth state within six months to give marriage rights to ALL of their citizens.  And just as been the story for the entire year, marriage equality did not stop there.  New Jersey followed suit, despite objections from it’s governor.  Hawaii legalized Same Sex Marriage.  Illinois also legalized Same Sex Marriage.  Lastly, just before Christmas, Utah(yes, Utah), through heartache and consternation, legalized Same Sex Marriage completing a banner year for many of those who are gay in the nation.

Now, say what you will about these Americans, but make sure you include that word when you do; AMERICAN.  As is the case, there is no reason why they cannot be treated with the same rights and more importantly given the same dignity that we all enjoy.  America is NOT a theocracy.  We do not make laws based on morality.  We make them based on equality.  No matter who you are or who you life.

3.  America Under Fire

For many Americas, 2012 ended in disaster.  We had to sit and watch a news report of a mentally wretched 19-year old obtained multiple firearms owned by his mother Nancy Lanza, and shot her to death and then proceeded to the school where she worked at killed 26 others, 20 of which were kids.  The nation in outrage would begin 2013 demanding action from our elected officials.  Whether it was restrictive action or proactive action for those with disabilities, something had to be done.  Within a month, a former police officer shoots seven and kills four in Los Angles.  Months later, 19 were shot by at a Mother’s Day Parade in New Orleans.  A few months after that in DC, a shooter entered into a Naval Facility and shot 20, killed 12.  Back in Los Angles, a armed gunman entered the airport and opened fire killing one and injuring six others.  The year would end with a murder suicide in a Colorado suburb and in Reno, Nevada.  In all these individuals barely represent a fraction of those shot by firearms in America.  They do represent those who should have never had access to firearms to begin with.  I would have hoped we learned our lesson a year ago.  We did not.

2.  The Health of Nations

Back in 2010, the U.S. Congress passed the Affordable Care Act, much to the dismay of Republicans everywhere.  Since then, various parts of the law referred to as “Obamacare” would come into effect allowing for those with pre-existing conditions to receive insurance and to help the elderly pay less for insurance they could barely afford.  That, however, was only the beginning.  The full law was scheduled to come into effect on October 1st… and it did.  The Federal Health Insurance Marketplace, which was setup to give options for insurance for those looking for something quality and affordable came online and immediately became the dictionary meaning of “mismanagement”.  The launch of the Federal Exchange was one of the most disastrous launch since Medicare and Medicaid launched some 45 years earlier… which would make a little sense since both were to restructure the way we take care of people in America, which has a LOT of sick people.

But if a broken website wasn’t bad enough, that was only the first salvo of a issue that would cause havoc to our government.  Never able to come to terms with a law that was already implemented and paid for, the Republicans wanted to do any and everything to try to stop the inevitable.  What they did was to tie crucial funding for the government to a repeal of the law.  The only problem is, the law was already paid for and the only thing that wasn’t being funded was everything else.  So the government shut down.  The Democrats handed the nation the disaster of inaccessible affordable healthcare.  The Republicans handed the nation a shutdown that would close down many government services and furloughed thousands of workers.  Because of the problems and lack of solutions given by both parties and not wanting to listen, the real losers from that entire month was the American people.  However, all things would come to an end.  The government came back online eventually and so did the Federal Exchange.  Unfortunately, the debate over the law has continued, just as health coverage for those who needed it the most.

1.  The Trial of Trayvon Martin

The death of Trayvon Martin was one of the biggest stories from 2012.  When a 16 year old kid walking home armed with a bag Skittles and a can of iced tea is shot and killed, the circumstances of his death did not sit well with many across America, particularly when his killer did not face an immediate arrest for his murder.  Millions rallied across the country.  Shouts for racial justice and equality in law was demanded.  All of it would result in the arrest and indictment of George Zimmerman for the 2nd Degree murder of Trayvon Martin.  In 2012, the good guys won.  Right?

Apparently not.  The most talked about trial of 2013 and probably the last decade was one that this nation could not ignore.  It began with a jury selection that resulted in six females, none of which were black, and what was never far from anyone’s mind was how relatable were the participants.  What became immediately apparently was less relevance on whether George Zimmerman justifiably killed Trayvon Martin, but the hotly debated fact of Trayvon Martin giving reason enough to be killed.  It became less about who George Zimmerman is and what was in is heart, but more about who was Trayvon Martin and what was in his heart.  Unfortunately Trayvon Martin couldn’t make it to his own trial.  Much to everyone’s surprise(which is a surprise in of itself), George Zimmerman was found Not Guilty.  I can’t possibly fathom how that verdict could have been found beyond ALL reasonable doubt, but therein lies the problem and why this issue and legacy of this trial will continue well into 2014 and beyond.

The Trial of Trayvon Martin became a focus on those involved, from Trayvon Martin to George Zimmeran, to Rachel Jentel to Trayvon’s Martin’s parents, it focused on them and how perceptions view these individual persons.  The jury and many across America could not relate to the humanity displayed by those who felt they were wronged.  They did however sympathize with the accused.  It became clear that the absence of Trayvon Martin spoke louder than the presence of George Zimmerman.   In the end, America watched as what unraveled as the greatest issues of our lifetimes came at a crossroads and ended in tragedy.  Race and class in the eyes of the law and the justice system has dominated the American consciousness.  What we saw from the Trial of Trayvon Martin and not the trial of George Zimmerman was an issue that will continue to plague us, just as it has for hundreds of years thus far.

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