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2020 Is Definitely 'One for the History Books'

Healthcare workers react to cheers at Brooklyn's Kings County Hospital Center during a 7 o'clock ceremony praising their efforts, April 24, 2020, New York. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)
2020 Is Definitely 'One for the History Books'
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And now, Words and Their Stories, from VOA Learning English.

It is safe to say that the year 2020 has been “one for the history books.” It stands out. And it is so worth remembering that historians will certainly write about it in history books.

Sadly, 2020 will be remembered mostly for a bad reason - the coronavirus pandemic. It will also “go down in history” as the year of face masks and quarantines.

Of course, 2020 did not start out as a year that would “make history.” It started off as just a normal year. However, when health officials said the virus had turned into a worldwide pandemic … that was “history in the making.” Countries closed their borders, schools and businesses closed, and people stayed indoors.

Although, something good also can be “one for the history books.” For example, the hard work and sacrifice of healthcare workers during the pandemic is also “one for the history books.” The scientists who make an effective vaccine will also “go down in history” for their important work.

History remembers some years fondly. Maybe there was a World Cup, a space launch, or an Olympics for the history books.

But not 2020.

Let’s imagine that the year 2020 has feelings. It might feel badly to know it is “going down in history” as the year of the COVID-19 pandemic. It might tell us that a pandemic was not in its plans. It might say that the pandemic is not that serious. It might say everyone is making a big deal out of nothing.

That would put 2020 very much “on the wrong side of history.” This phrase usually describes outdated decisions, practices, or opinions. No one wants to be “on the wrong side of history.”

So, maybe 2020 should just stop talking. If people had any goodwill left for this unfortunate year … it would be “history.” That goodwill would be forgotten. If something is “history,” it is gone, destroyed, or at least in very serious trouble.

But 2020 is not unreasonable. More likely, it probably hopes that it will soon be “ancient history.” If we say something is “ancient history,” it is usually a troubled event that is long forgotten. People have moved on. In other words, 2020 may hope that we completely forget about it.

Although, forgetting about it would be foolish and even dangerous. Lessons from history can be important.

In fact, we have a saying: “those who don’t learn history are destined to repeat it.” If we don’t study history, it may be our destiny to make the same mistakes again and again.

And here is another saying: “history often repeats itself.” So, it may be a good idea to remember the valuable lessons we have learned in 2020.

Even though it may have been a very difficult year for many people, we must fight the urge to “rewrite history.” When we “rewrite history,” we re-create facts to fit our own way of thinking or our own plans.

So, to 2020 we say this: Do not despair. Do not be sad. You are part of our “shared history.” In your dark and uncertain days, there were also bright, beautiful moments. There were people caring for each other and selfless heroes. And we are not likely to forget them or you. All are destined for the history books.

And that’s Words and Their Stories.

Until next time … I’m Anna Matteo.

Anna Matteo wrote this story for VOA Learning English. Hai Do was the editor.


Words in This Story

sacrifice n. the act of giving up something that you want to keep especially in order to get or do something else or to help someone

face mask – n. a mask or protective covering for the face or part of the face

quarantine – n. the period of time during which a person or animal that has a disease or that might have a disease is kept away from others to prevent the disease from spreading

unfortunate – adj. having bad luck : not appropriate or desirable

destined – v. to designate, assign, or dedicate in advance

despair – v. to no longer have any hope or belief that a situation will improve or change