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The Biggest Historical Milestones and Anniversaries of 2019

Congress gets a record number of women, The U.K. “brexits” and we commemorate the 75th anniversary of D-Day.
A few of the 116th Congress members-elects during a group photo on the East Front Plaza of the US Capitol in Washington, DC. 

A few of the 116th Congress members-elects during a group photo on the East Front Plaza of the US Capitol in Washington, DC. 

There will be a record number of women in Congress.

When the 116th Congress begins on January 3, it will have a record-breaking 125 women. It’s still a long way from gender parity—there are 410 male members—but it’s a big leap from the so-called “Year of the Woman” in 1992, whose midterms increased the number of women in Congress from 34 to 55.

Many women were motivated to run in ‘92 after witnessing the Senate Judiciary Committee’s sexist treatment of Anita Hill during Clarence Thomas’s Supreme Court confirmation, similarly to how sexism and racism in politics inspired many women to run this year. Some media outlets have referenced this parallel by calling 2018 the “Year of the Woman.” However, this has received pushback, as it did the first time.

Back in 1992, Senator Barbara Mikulski of Maryland said: “Calling 1992 the Year of the Woman makes it sound like the Year of the Caribou or the Year of the Asparagus. We’re not a fad, a fancy, or a year.”

The U.S. raises a glass to 100 years since Prohibition.

On January 16, the U.S. ratified the 18th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, prohibiting the “manufacture, sale, or transportation of intoxicating liquors for beverage purposes.” The amendment didn’t stop people from drinking alcohol; instead, it helped create criminal gangs that regulated and distributed illegal alcohol with speakeasy bars. Nearly 15 years later, the U.S. repealed it with the 21st Amendment.

Britain's Prime Minister Theresa May arriving at the European Council to address a summit of European Union leaders regarding Brexit negotiations in October 2018.

Britain's Prime Minister Theresa May arriving at the European Council to address a summit of European Union leaders regarding Brexit negotiations in October 2018.

Brexit is finally happening … we think?

The United Kingdom shocked the world (and itself) when it voted to leave the European Union in the summer of 2016. The U.K. is scheduled to officially “brexit” on March 29 at 11:000 am GMT, even though Prime Minister Theresa May still hasn’t arranged a deal with the E.U. about how this will all work.

A lot could still happen between then and now. Some think that May could resign or that the opposition parties could push her out; and there’s even a push for the U.K. to hold a second referendum on whether the country should actually go through with Brexit. Without a solid Brexit plan, the Bank of England has warned that the impact on the country’s economy could be worse than that of the 2008 global financial crisis.

A Japanese Emperor will abdicate for the first time in 200 years.

Emperor Akihito will abdicate his throne on April 30, becoming the first Japanese royal to do so in two centuries. Akihito, who is 84, has said he wants to hand over the throne to his 58-year-old son, Crown Prince Naruhito, before he dies.

Similarly to the Queen of England, the Japanese Emperor is today a strictly ceremonial position, and has been since Japan’s constitution stripped it of political power in 1947. The last Japanese Emperor to abdicate his throne was Emperor Kokaku in 1817.

We mark a century since the bombings, raids and riots of 1919.

In the spring of 1919, a series of mail bombs targeted government officials and prominent people like Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes and John D. Rockefeller, the world’s first billionaire. These bombings, attributed to anarchists, were followed by the “Red Summer,” in which dozens of riots broke out in major cities where black Americans were pushing for civil rights. In Chicago, riots broke out after white people stoned a black boy for swimming at an unofficially whites-only beach. In Elaine, Arkansas, federal troops and white mobs murdered more than 100 black adults and children after sharecroppers tried to organize for fairer wages.

After this came the Palmer raids, a series of violent and abusive law-enforcement raids that carried over into 1920. Police beat and arrested people suspected of being leftist radicals and anarchists, and the government deported hundreds of immigrants, including the Russian anarchist Emma Goldman. The coming year marks a century since these turbulent events.

Tourists will dive into the wreck of the Titanic.

The Titanic II—one man’s questionable replica of the Titanic—won’t set sail until 2022, if at all. But in the meantime, tourists with a cool extra $105,129 will get the chance to tour the first Titanic. The first commercial diving tours of the Titanic wreckage begin June 26.

The summer of ‘69 turns 50.

This summer will mark the 50-year anniversary for a lot of significant events in 1969. They include: when gay and trans customers at the Stonewall Inn fought back against a police raid on June 28; when two Americans walked on the moon for the first time on July 20; and when Charles Manson’s cult shockingly murdered seven people in California in early August.

There was also the Woodstock Music Festival, where half a million young people gathered to listen to Richie Havens, Santana, Sly & the Family Stone, Jimi Hendrix and more on August 15 through 18. Years later, the summer would inspire the title to Bryan Adams’ 1984 hit song about teenage longing, even though Adams himself was actually only 9 years old during the “Summer of ‘69.”

Into the Jaws of Death

Colorized photo titled “Into the Jaws of Death,” photographed by Robert F Sargent, of the United States Army First Infantry Division disembarking from a landing craft onto Omaha Beach during the Normandy Landings on D Day.

The world remembers the liberation of Normandy.

June 6, 1944 was the beginning of the end for Adolf Hitler and his Nazis. That day, Allied troops stormed the French beaches of Normandy and liberated it from Nazi control. One of the reasons D-Day was so successful was because the Allies ran a misinformation campaign to confuse the Nazis about their next moves. This year marks the 75th anniversary of that fateful day.

Historic Jamestown reflects on its contradictions.

In the summer of 1619, the Jamestown settlement established the first representative government for white men in the British American colonies. That same summer, Africans arrived in the Virginia Colony for the first time to live under unequal and different law and orders. In 2019, the Jamestown Settlement is commemorating these and other significant events that happened 400 year ago.

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