2021 Recap: The Biggest News Stories of the Year

By Sasha Budesa, Staff Writer

The year 2021 was a year unlike any other: especially for the news cycle. From “bogus” ballots to Taliban takeovers, here are the biggest news stories from 2021.

Ever Given Stuck in Suez

The Ever Given on March 24th, 2021; excavators dig up the Suez’s walls to free the ship | Suez Canal Authority via Associated Press

On the 23rd of March, 2021, the container ship Ever Given, one of the largest container ships in the world, ran aground while attempting to go through the Suez Canal.

For the next six days, the massive, 400-meter long vessel caused a $9.6 billion dollar traffic jam, blocking any and all trade that went through the canal. On the 28th of March, the day before the ship was freed, nearly 400 ships were waiting behind it.

“[It was] funny how antiquated our ship routes are that one clogged port affected the entire functioning economy. Really funny,” said Chayse Buckley, a senior at Wayne Hills.

2020 Olympics

Olympic torch and Japanese flags at Tokyo 2020 | usatoday.com

No, that’s not a typo. Due to the COVID-19 Pandemic, the 2020 Tokyo Olympics were pushed a year ahead, held on the 23rd of July to August 8th, 2021. 205 nations in total participated in the games.

The stands were notably devoid of fans: no public spectators were allowed due to Tokyo being under a COVID-fueled state of emergency. Coronavirus concerns also inspired hundreds of protestors to descend on the stadium, criticizing the decision to go ahead with the games while COVID cases rose in Japan’s capital.

The United States led the medal count with a total of 39 gold meals, however, China was close behind with 38 golds. Who knows who’ll come out on top at the next Olympics?

Taliban Offensive

A helicopter evacuates staff from the US Embassy during the Fall of Kabul, Kabul, Afghanistan | Rahmat Gul

The 2021 Taliban offensive started on the 1st of May, 2021, and culminated in the Fall of Kabul on August 15th with the complete takeover of Afghanistan by the Taliban.

The defeat of the US-backed Afghan government came as a shock to America and its allies across the world.

The Taliban takeover of Afghanistan marked the end of the 20 year long War in Afghanistan, which had killed over 176,000 people in the country.


Trucks stuck in traffic on Interstate 35 in Killeen, Texas, during Winter Storm Uri | Joe Raedle Getty Images

Winter Storm Uri ravaged North America from February 13th to February 17th, 2021. The storm became the costliest natural disaster in American history and killed 200-1,200 people in the United States alone. All-in-all, Uri is estimated to have caused $195 billion to $295 billion in damages in the United States.

The winter storm caused power grids across America to fail, leaving 5.2 million homes and businesses out of power. Particularly hard hit was the state of Texas: 50% of Texans were left without access to water, 75% could not obtain groceries, 69% were affected by power outages, and 71% could not access the internet.

January 6th

On January 6th, 2021, a crowd of Trump supporters stormed the United States Capitol. They sought to prevent Congress from counting the electoral vote of the 2020 Presidential Election and confirm Joe Biden as the victor.

Once inside the capitol, the MAGA-hatted mob looked for lawmakers, vandalized property, broke into offices, and pursued capitol police officers. Federal law enforcement locked down the Capitol Complex and evacuated both chambers of Congress, with rioters attempting to break into the House floor and succeeding in breaching the Senate chamber. Provocative messages such as “MURDER THE MEDIA” were found scribbled onto walls.

Trump supporters gather outside the United States Capitol Building | Getty Images

The attack led to the second impeachment of Donald Trump, who was accused of inciting an insurrection by encouraging his supporters to attack the Capitol. One rioter was killed during the attack and 138 police officers were injured.

Following the attack, over 70% of Americans surveyed by the University of Houston said that
“America is falling apart.”