We know you’ve seen plenty of those lists about the biggest news events of the year. Here’s a copy of our final editorial of the year, in which we list what we saw as the most inspiring stories – some local, some global – of 2010. We know we’ve probably left out some obvious ones. Let us know your candidates.
In the meantime, Happy New Year
– Paul Gullixson
One last look back
Hoist the iPads and sound the vuvuzelas — 2010 has finally come to a close. In many ways we say good riddance. It was a year of political partisanship, economic hardship and natural devastation — from an oil spill in the Gulf, to an earthquake in Haiti to mining disasters from West Virginia to Chile.
Locally, it was a year of holes, from a $61 million one for Sonoma County government to a $350 million one for the SMART train. And it was a year that ended with a battle over building a bridge — a bike bridge. But tucked among the news of 2010 there were some uplifting stories to be found.
Here are 10 worth remembering. (If you have others, and we know there are plenty we’ve overlooked, e-mail us or add your thoughts to watchsonomacounty.com, where this list will be posted.)
10. The Nov. 13 release of Myanmar’s pro-democracy leader after 21 years of imprisonment. Aung San Suu Kyi should have been named prime minister following elections in 1990. Instead, the results were nullified and the military refused to hand over power. As can be imagined, hers was a memorable reunion at the Yangon airport with a son she hadn’t seen in a decade.
9. A near-perfect game: On June 2, all the world, or so it seemed, saw Detroit Tigers pitcher Armando Galarraga throw a perfect game — everyone except the umpire, that is. On the last out, Umpire Jim Joyce called the runner safe at first when replays clearly showed he was out. What made the moment memorable, however, was Galarraga’s response. He shrugged it off and finished the game. A tearful Joyce later personally apologized for blowing the call. Galarraga’s response: “Nobody’s perfect.” There are lessons for a lifetime to be found in this story, which deserves a special place in Cooperstown.
8. On May 26, before a packed audience at Santa Rosa’s Veterans Memorial Building, young Keshia Terrell-O’Rourke “recounted a high school career that included becoming a constant truant and pregnant at 14,” noted Press Democrat writer Kerry Benefield (“Overcoming odds to graduate,” May 26). But on this day, Terrell-O’Rourke, a young mother, was graduating along with 43 of her classmates from the Sonoma County Office of Education’s Alternative Education Program. She was also being honored with a scholarship to Santa Rosa Junior College. “This is just the beginning and there are still more miracles for us,” she said.
7. The last of the combat troops leaves Iraq. Granted, there are still 50,000 U.S. soldiers left in the country, but President Obama saw the moment as significant enough to warrant a speech from the Oval Office where he acknowledged the “huge price” paid of that war, including 4,429 killed. The focus now shifts to the president’s promise that U.S. troops will begin to withdraw from Afghanistan in July 2011.
6. Santa Rosa Police Officer Lucia Wade takes part in an emotional reunion at Benziger Family Winery near Glen Ellen. As Robert Digitale reported, Wade thanked a fellow police officer, firefighters and emergency medical services workers, 14 people in all, who worked to save her life after she was struck by a car and seriously injured while pursuing a suspect. She was one of eight people to be reunited with their rescuers during the 17th Annual Sonoma County Paramedic Association Survivors Reunion. Said Wade, “You all mean the world to me.”
5. The San Francisco Giants. Little more needs to be said. It was a season and a World Series that fans still can’t stop talking about. It’s remarkable what a rookie and a bunch of castoffs, misfits, black-bearded relievers and a Freak managed to do — bring the San Francisco Giants their first World Series championship. The Press Democrat’s headline that next morning was “Believe it.” It’s still hard.
4. Carmina Salcido sings for “American Idol” (“A song in her heart,” by Sam Scott, Aug. 20). In 1989, her father, Ramon Salcido, murdered seven people, including her mother and two sisters. Carmina Salcido, only a toddler then, was found in a county garbage dump next to the bodies of her siblings. Her throat had been cut, but she survived and wrote about her ordeal in a book published last year titled “Not Lost Forever.” Salcido is now 24. One of the songs performed during her “Idol” audition: “Ave Maria.”
3. The story of Ronda Giancreco of Sonoma, who, after learning she had late-onset multiple sclerosis and might lose her mobility within 12 months, pledged to host 52 dinner parties in 52 weeks for eight people a week during 2010. At last count, she was on dinner No. 52. (“Among friends,” Sunday, by Meg McConahey with photos by Beth Schlanker). Said Giancreco: “If I’m fortunate enough to make it to 80, I’ll look back on this as one of the great accomplishments of my life. This was my Everest.”
2. The rescue of 33 miners trapped in a copper and gold mine in Chile: No one in recorded history has survived as long trapped underground. The miners were stuck in a small chamber for more than two months. For the first 17 days, no one knew if they were even alive. U.S. drilling experts assisted, and the miners were pulled to the surface in a capsule designed by NASA engineers. But ultimately, it was the stories of the miners themselves that was the most inspiring. “We had strength, we had spirit, we wanted to fight, we wanted to fight for our families, and that was the greatest thing,” miner Luis Urzua said immediately after being pulled the 2,000 feet to the surface. And the world cheered.
1. And the best news of 2010: we’re still here. And when all is said and done, we still live in the most beautiful place on Earth. That’s worth remembering.
Happy New Year.