It’s New Year’s Eve and we’ve decided on a quiet evening after weeks of activities with friends and family. Freshly back in town, I’m content to sit in the light of the Christmas tree on this dark and cold December night with a fire in the woodstove and the outdoor holiday lights turned on to brighten the darkness.
Looking back on 2016, I’m grateful on many levels. In January I happily rejoined Bearing Drift after a 1.5-year hiatus. In February I celebrated 10 years in the Virginia conservative blogosphere. Writing is my passion and politics is my hobby. This year they both took a hit with the crazed primaries and election that left some with many questions. I still continue my LynnRMitchell.com blog with postings about my back road ramblings, sights along the way, and photographs of where I’ve been.
Politics continues to be a swamp with back-stabbers who follow power and change sides on a whim. Those who are truly loyal are a tiny number, not just in politics but life in general.
A few highlights from the year….
It was a happy day in June when former Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell was exonerated when the U.S. Supreme Court unanimously threw out his corruption conviction with an 8-0 decision. It left the former governor free but in debt for millions of dollars after his defense against an overzealous federal government.
2016 started with a blizzard in mid-January that dumped 18 inches of snow on the Valley with three-to-four foot drifts. The storm also affected most of the Commonwealth including Northern Virginia and Richmond.
The Republican presidential primaries and debates dominated the year. The GOP began with 18 candidates and whittled it down to one. The Super Bowl saw the Denver Broncos defeat the Carolina Panthers. In March Virginians were saddened at the passing of Nelson County native Earl Hamner, author and co-creator of “The Waltons” TV show, and mourned the death of former First Lady Nancy Reagan, wife of President Ronald Reagan.
The Republican Party of Virginia held its state convention in Harrisonburg on the campus of James Madison University. Nelson County’s Devil’s Backbone Brewery was acquired by beer giant Anheuser-Busch. In Bedford, the 72nd anniversary of D-Day was commemorated with a ceremony held at the Memorial and attended by people from around the world. 2016 also marked the 30th anniversary of Hands Across America.
In July Democrats made history by nominating Hillary Clinton as the first woman presidential candidate of a major political party, and she chose Virginia U.S. Senator Tim Kaine as her running mate. In November Americans elected Donald Trump as president.
A devastating flood hit West Virginia during the summer. A National Park warning went out about black bears; at Humpback Rock along the Blue Ridge Parkway a bear broke into a vehicle while at the northern end of Skyline Drive a bear killed a hiker’s dog.
In September, Natural Bridge became Virginia’s newest state park. In April, Shenandoah National Park had the second-largest forest fire in its history, consuming more than 10,000 acres. 2016 was the fifteenth anniversary of the 9/11 terrorism attacks on America, and the tenth anniversary of the death of “Crocodile Hunter” Steve Irwin.
There were many celebrity deaths during the year as well as notable names of those who are not as familiar but who made a mark on the world. The list of names is almost staggering, leading many to curse the fact that 2016 had taken so many, but blogosphere colleague Doug Mantaconis explains why there seemed to be so many:
… the reason that it appears that more celebrities are dying is a combination of several factors. First, many of the people who have died in the past year became celebrities during one of the biggest population increases in the history of the United States and other nations in the West, which means that there are more people to take notice of their passing and, likely, that there are more “famous” people than there used to be in the past.
Second, the rise of new technologies and new genres of music and other forms of entertainment means that there is more of a likelihood that any particular day, week, or month, will include the death of someone that some significant group of people consider famous for some reason.
Additionally, as I already noted, the existence of online social media and the Internet means that people are more likely to be exposed to things they otherwise might have missed in the past and that the news of someone passing away spreads more easily, and more rapidly than it ever has before. These phenomena also serve as a sort of shared community where people can share their grief over the passing of a favorite actor or singer.
To many 2016 was a good year. Others are glad to see it go. In a few hours, 2017 will roll in and we begin anew.
Happy New Year!
Cross-posted at Bearing Drift