- Last Updated on Tuesday, 24 December 2013 16:28
- Published on Tuesday, 24 December 2013 16:28
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My great aunt, whose life covered a century, used to tell me that as she got older the years, “just flew by.” When I was ten or so and first heard this I couldn’t imagine what she was talking about. A day sometimes seemed like forever and a year was an eternity. But, now, many years later I understand what she meant. When I was ten, a year was a staggering tenth of my life. At least to that point. Now, a year, is a much smaller fraction and I completely understand what my great aunt was talking about. The years do fly by. However, that doesn’t make the accomplishments, disappointments and promises of a year that’s past any less important. And they deserve a little recognition.
This year’s race for governor ended not so much in a victory as it did, at least for many Virginians, in a sigh of relief. It was finally over. Like most people I listened to dozens, if not hundreds of political advertisements, but for the first time in memory, I don’t recall a single one that was positive. No one touted their credentials or accomplishments. They were all just attacks on the other guy. In the end, the Democrats, for the first time since 1989, managed a clean sweep of the statewide offices. And what’s more, for the first time since 1969, control not only all the top jobs in the state, but both U.S. Senate seats. Given that the Democrats have also carried Virginia during the past two Presidential elections, it would seem the Commonwealth is no longer red.
Nationally, America said goodbye to one of the last Mercury Seven astronauts, America’s first men in space, Scott Carpenter. Carpenter was the second American to orbit the earth. Carpenter’s words over the radio to his colleague, John Glenn, the first American to orbit the earth, a heartfelt “Godspeed John Glenn,” still resonate after 50 years. Now, Glenn, at age 90, is the only surviving Mercury astronaut.
And then there was Nelson Mandella. Known as Madiba to his many friends and supporters in South Africa, he led his country from Apartheid into a true democratic republic. He suffered 27 years in prison and emerged, not bitter, but rather with a spirit of forgiveness and friendship that defined his nations’ transformation. Rarely has the passing of a world leader prompted such an outpouring of goodwill.
Other events captured the headlines. Eric Snowden let us know that the NSA, in addition to monitoring just about every electronic transmission there is, was also tapping the German Chancellor’s cell phone. Chancellor Merkel was none too happy about that. Of all the world’s leaders she is one of the last ones I would want to cross. The Affordable Healthcare Act, a continuing obsession for some if not most in the Republican Party, had one of the most difficult rollouts imaginable. The twelfth grade web design class at my local high school would have done a far better job. But, amongst those noisy stories, was the aftermath of Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines. This was a massive storm that devastated this beleaguered country. The U.S. Marine Corps, in larger than division strength and the U.S. Navy, with an aircraft carrier are still there helping this poor nation in its recovery. That’s a heartwarming thought to close out 2013. Happy New Year.