A lot can happen in a year. That’s the lesson we learn every December, when we pause to reflect on the 365 days that have come and gone. 2013 was no exception.
This was a busy year for progressives, who celebrated victories and regrouped after defeats. It was also a trying year for the country as a whole, as we bid farewell to familiar faces and comforted one another amidst tragedy. Around the globe, this year saw everything from a royal birth and to a stately death.
Here is a look back at twelve of the iconic images from 2013:
A Second Term
President Obama was sworn in for his second term on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, marking the beginning of a year of progress on issues ranging from marriage equality to immigration to affordable health care.
A New Papacy
Jorge Mario Bergoglio was unexpectedly elevated to the papacy in March after his predecessor Pope Benedict resigned, the first time the leader of the Catholic Church left the position before his death in more than 600 years. Even more unexpected was the year that followed in which Pope Francis preached the values of economic justice, and decried worsening income inequality and the fallacy of trickle-down economics.
A Preventable Tragedy
In April, a garment manufacturing plant that serviced some of the world’s largest apparel companies collapsed, killing more than 1,000 people. In the weeks that followed, the people of Bangladesh rose up and demanded a living wage and higher safety standards, while 70 international brands signed a pact that opened up their Bangladeshi suppliers to inspections for the first time.
An Act of Terror
The celebrations that usually accompany the finish line of the annual Boston Marathon were interrupted first with a bang, then with chaos and fear, and finally with immense bravery and camaraderie on April 15, when two radicalized brothers set off bombs that killed three people and injured hundreds more.
A New High
Twelve and a half years after the twin towers fell in the September 11 terrorist attacks, the new One World Trade Center eclipsed Chicago’s Willis Tower to claim the title of the tallest building in the United States, thanks in no small part to unionized labor.
A Comfy Pair of Shoes
It took a few hours, but by the end of the night on June 25, the eyes of the nation were affixed to Austin, Texas, where an unknown state senator was successfully filibustering a Republican-sponsored bill aimed at further eroding women’s rights in Texas. Wendy Davis’ pink sneakers instantly shot to the top of Amazon’s bestseller list and touched off a national conversation about a woman’s right to choose.
A Day for Marriage
Friends, supporters, and couples gay and straight gathered on the footsteps of the Supreme Court in June to be the first to hear the news that the Defense of Marriage Act, which for years had ill-defined marriage as between a man and a woman, had been struck down as unconstitutional.
A Cause for Protest
Hundreds of thousands of people took to the streets in dozens of cities across Brazil over the summer to protest widespread corruption and fiscal irresponsibility in the halls of government. The nation is set to host to the 2014 World Cup and the 2016 Summer Olympics, but public spending on soccer stadiums and Olympic halls at a time when funding for schools and hospitals is running dry struck a nerve with the people of Brazil.
A Nation Closed for Business
Angered by their inability to further cut funding for programs designed to help low-income families, Republicans in the House of Representatives refused to pass a continuing resolution to fund the federal government, effectively shutting down the nation’s capitol — and things like national parks — for more than two weeks in October.
A Natural Disaster
The devastation wrought by Typhoon Haiyan has yet to subside, as the death toll from the November storm surpassed 6,000 people just last week. What’s becoming increasingly clear, however, is that the effects of global climate change — rising sea levels, warming oceans — are helping to fuel storms like Haiyan and heighten their impact on those that live in their path.
A Hidden City
Shanghai, the world’s largest city proper and home to more than 14 million people, disappeared in December behind a pollution-induced haze that cancelled flights and forced its residents indoors. The amount of particulates in the air were as high as 31 times above the recommended levels.
A World in Mourning
The passing of Nelson Mandela was a day that South Africa knew would come eventually, but that did nothing to lessen the impact of his loss. For days, the entire international community mourned and remembered the fallen visionary, and celebrated his extraordinary life.