Top Stories of 2011 from The Shawna Vercher Show

Santa is not the only keeping a list during the holidays. The Shawna Vercher Show took a look at the top news events from 2011 counted down a dozen of the most impactful events. Do you remember where you were when you first heard about these stories?

12The Passing of Kim Jong Il – The United States has long had its eye trained on North Korea. Now that this legendary dictator is no longer with us, how will his young son handle the role?

11Record-breaking Disasters in the United States – Mother Nature set a record this year with ten disasters costing our nation over a billion dollars each. We experienced hundreds of tornadoes, blizzards, floods, wildfires and the hurricane that struck the northeast. Look for more discussion about emergency preparedness and funding, as well as the role in climate change, in the year ahead.

10Poll: Congress Deserves Coal in Their Stockings – The numbers may have confirmed what we already knew: we do not like Congress. With record disapproval ratings and two-thirds of the country wanting the incumbents from both sides of the aisle ousted, 2012 may prove to be a historical election season.

9Penn State Scandal – Horrific details continue to emerge and the shock waves continue to ripple beyond the borders of the University’s campus as allegations of sexual abuse and a high-level cover-up lasting fifteen years broke this winter. What this means for those involved remains to be seen, but Americans are now faced with the heart-wrenching questions of how something like this could happen and how we can prevent it from ever happening again.

8The Global Economy – For many families it was the top story of the year, as millions struggled with unemployment, underemployment, foreclosure and poverty. We watched helpless while conversations in Spain or Greece caused markets to tumble or rally here at home. The biggest holiday wish for many this year is that 2012’s top story is all about recovery and rebuilding.

7Iraq War Ends – A war fought for over eight years ended officially with a ceremony that lasted less than an hour, though it is clear that our nation will be struggling to recover for many years to come. Our men and women in uniform have begun to head home and now the focus turns to helping them, as well as the families of those we lost, to rebuild their lives.

6Republican Primary – In what may also turn out to be one of the top stories of 2012, the race to become the next nominee for President of the United States has already been memorable to say the least. From the cast of characters that played a temporary role, such as Herman Cain and Tim Pawlenty, to those that were not officially candidates, such as Sarah Palin and Donald Trump, the news headlines were dominated by this race. It remains to be seen who can carry the headlines and ultimate victory as we continue to track Gingrich, Perry, Romney, Paul, Bachmann, Huntsman and Santorum during this long contest.

5Gabrielle Giffords Shot in Tuscon – Six lives were lost and a dozen people were wounded when a man described as a “loner” and schizophrenic opened fire at a Tuscon grocery store. The event was a somber reminder of our right to civil and safe democratic discourse, something we have vowed not to take for granted in the near future.

4The Occupy Movement – Whether or not their impact is lasting or deep is a topic for discussion, but we cannot deny the impact that they have had on the discussion in general. Thousands of protesters took to the streets across the country (and in some cases spread to other countries) with thousands of ideas and thousands of complaints. The one thing they all shared was the belief that things were not going to get better if everyone watched from the sidelines.

3Tragedy Strikes Japan – Thousands of people lost their lives and hundreds of thousands lost their homes or their places of business as an earthquake measuring 9.0 on the Richter scale transformed the Fukushima region. We may never understand the true magnitude of the disaster, but the images of entire villages wiped away and brave workers thwarting nuclear meltdown will remain with us well past 2011.

2Osama Bin Laden Assassinated – Nearly a decade after the towers fell on September 11th, America received the news from President Obama on May 1st at 11:35 PM: Osama Bin Laden was dead. The impact of this event continues to grow as we study the materials recovered from his compound and target other terrorist leaders.

1The Arab Spring – When a Tunisian fruit vendor set himself on fire in December of 2010, he lit a spark that would travel to seventeen nations and launch millions of protesters into action. Tunisia’s president stepped down less than a month later, but Libya, Egypt, Bahrain were among those that struggled for nearly the entire year in their fight for democracy. For a detailed look at the events of our top news story for the year, the Arab Spring, click here.

It was an impactful year, full of both unspeakable tragedy and unimaginable hope. As you celebrate the holidays this year, we hope that you will reflect on 2011 in such a way that you are ready to make 2012 the best year that it can possibly be.

Merry Christmas America!