As New Year’s Eve draws closer and retrospectives of this tumultuous year and decade pervade, I couldn’t help but add my voice to the fray. For me, the past ten years can officially be considered the “decade that changed everything.”
The decade began with the Y2K panic, with doomsday theorists predicting that computers would fail when rolling over to the double-zero year. I vividly recall a Y2K party held at my church, complete with bonfire and prayer, organized to distract from the potential nightmare that some predicted but thankfully went unrealized. A few days later, I received final approval in the process to become an Eagle Scout, and my ceremony was held a few months thereafter at the same church where I had gathered with family and friends on the eve of what was described as a potential technological disaster. My Eagle ceremony proved momentous not just for me but for a family member, whose gift to me launched a career that sustains her to this day.
The following year brought the worst terrorist attack on US soil since Pearl Harbor, an event that permanently scarred the country and led to a war that continues to this day. In the same way that my father will forever remember where he was and what he was doing when President Kennedy was assassinated, the memory of sitting in Mrs. Fletcher’s math class as an assistant headmaster announced that a plane had struck the World Trade Center will stay with me forever. 2001 also plunged the country into the first of two recessions the United States endured during this decade, though it turned out to be one of diminutive proportions compared to the current crisis the world economy endures. Standing as the final insult to an already pox-marked year was the December collapse of Enron Corporation, a disaster that would have then-unimaginable consequences for my professional career. As this momentous yet forgettable year ended, it led to a year of extraordinary change in my life.