2020 Year in Review

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2020 has been one dysfunctional freak show so far. We’re in a new decade, things should be awesome, but that remains to be seen.

Within a matter of months, we’re in unprecedented times due to the virus I will not name. I’m talking of course about the coronavirus (COVID-19), otherwise known as the pain-in-the-ass virus that has messed everything up and won’t go away. It’s like that unwelcomed intruder who gets everyone in your house sick, steals your wallet, and kicks your dog on their way out. Then before you even know what happened, they’re at your neighbor’s house doing the same thing. That’s right, the coronavirus is terrible. 

It’s named from the crown-like spikes that resemble the sun’s corona. You know, like the beer. The “rona” reportedly surfaced in Wuhan, China from street vendors known as “wet markets,” where raw meat and poultry is sold alongside fresh produce. I’ve heard so much speculation on corona’s origins that it’s hard to know what’s what anymore. 

Did people get the virus from eating bats, or was it created in a bio-lab and unleashed on a suspecting population? Is it a nefarious plot by the globalist elite to create mass panic and  destroy the US economy, or did it all just sort of happen? One thing is for sure, we (Americans) shouldn’t believe much of what the communist Chinese government says about it. They’re probably just practicing some good old-fashioned CYA. But what do I know? I just want to be able to go to park without getting arrested. 

The virus has exploded worldwide, the US being the hardest hit with over 500,000 confirmed cases and 20,000 corona-related deaths. It’s prone to linger on surfaces and spread easily. The rich and famous are not immune. Many athletes, celebrities, and politicians have tested positive, including Tom Hanks and his wife, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson, cable news pundits, and countless others.  We’re talking about a virus with no vaccine that has almost two million confirmed cases worldwide, and that’s just the cases we know of. It’s not the end of the world, but people are suffering, the economy has taken a massive hit, unemployment has skyrocketed, and the new norm is one of limited travel and mandated quarantines. But there’s no reason the new year has to be only about the corona virus. Plenty of other crappy things that have happened so far.

We began 2020 with heightened tensions between Iran and the US. #WorldWarIII was trending worldwide. The escalation began when Iran, through its terrorist proxy, Hezbollah, attacked an Iraqi airbase with rockets, killing one American contractor and injuring several service members in late-December. The US responded with strategic airstrikes. I was and still am on small joint-military air base in the United Arab Emirates, doing Army business here since August 2019. We were put on high alert on New Year’s Eve as a result of the attack against the US Embassy in Baghdad as angry mobs surrounded and attacked one of the largest most secured embassies in the world, setting fire to the Green Zone and causing mass evacuations. 

Attack on the US Embassy in Baghdad, Iraq – December 31, 2019

On January 3rd, a US drone strike near the Baghdad International Airport killed Iranian general Qasem Soleimani, considered the second most powerful man Iran. Following that strike, Iran vowed swift retribution. Our base, where Special Forces and Seal Teams work, was placed on high alert once again. We were told that we could all be deployed at a moment’s notice. At least Christmas had been quiet. 

Earlier in October 2019, there was a pullout of US forces in Northern Syria. This led to an invasion of Turkish military forces against our Kurdish allies in October 2019. Remember that? At the time, one of our Crisis Response Teams in the UAE deployed to Iraq for a month to secure the Northern border of Syria. After the US Baghdad Embassy attack, things heated up again. The Iran response for killing their beloved general was a rocket attack on Camp Taji, Iraq. Fortunately, US forces had evacuated the base and there were no casualties. The tense situation soon dissipated. We could all go on with our lives without concern of looming war. 

Then came the inevitable celebrity deaths. We lost legendary Monty Python member Terry Jones, Kurt Douglas, Kenny Rogers, Max Von Sydow, and many others. The death of Kobe Bryant, his 13-year-old daughter, Gianna, and seven others in a helicopter crash sent shockwaves throughout the world. Rush Limbaugh was diagnosed with lung cancer and was later awarded the presidential medal of Freedom during President Trump’s January State of the Union Address. All of these occurrences were surreal. I recall David Bowie’s passing in February 2016. It was a major blow. Prince soon followed and then Tom Petty in 2017. There’s no end to losing people we admire. Hell, I still miss James Gandolfini! It’s going to happen with everyone we grew up with or watched, read, or listened to, and it’s always going to suck. 

My Dad has been struggling with stage four cancer for the better part of a year now. His cancer metastasized six years after successful surgery for prostate cancer. He’s been receiving some serious treatments and is hanging in there. I can’t imagine the challenges ahead for him. He’s always been there for me, and I’m all the more grateful and fortunate because of it. Parents, friends, heroes—I wish they could live forever. For most of us, life has changed drastically in a matter of months. Is there anything more important than being alive right now and holding on to everything we have?  

What’s next for 2020? Will there be an end to the corona madness? Will the economy recover, or are we in for tougher times ahead ? I don’t have all the answers, but I do know that there’s no better time to realize our full potential. We should keep our family and friends close, because they’re the people who truly care for us. Stay focused and active, and don’t let the times get you down. Of course, there’s nothing wrong with the occasional YouTube-Amazon-Netflix binge. Stay tuned for my “Shut-in Cinema” movie list. Until then, wishing you and your families the best during these uncertain times.

Just remember Orphan Annie’s inspiring song: “The sun’ll come out to-morrow!”

At least until it explodes one day.

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