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Category:  Did You Know?
Published:  December, 2009

Did You Know?

It is the turn of the decade. It’s probably not as worthy of as much attention as say, well, the turn of the century – but it certainly has its own kind of charm.

Unlike Y2K (for those of you who’ve already forgotten that was the year 2000), which carried with it the ominous potential of a worldwide computer meltdown, the year 2010 won’t arrive with any real high tech related anxieties.

It’s just the beginning of a whole new decade, with many, many developments that we’ve not even dreamed of in the final days of 2009.

Let’s look back. In 1999, we had no idea the Pittsburgh Steelers would win their fifth and then their sixth Super Bowl Championship. Nor would we have ever thought they would appear in four of the decades AFC Championship games.

Locally, it had been nearly two decades since a Uniontown basketball team played for a Pennsylvania State Championship. In 2000 and again in 2002 – two Red Raider teams played for state titles, but unfortunately they lost.

In fact, the 2002 team did win Uniontown’s first WPIAL Basketball Championship since the early 1980’s.

There was no such thing as an iPod until October of 2001.

Google was a 20th Century invention, but it hadn’t become one of the internet’s most reliable resources.

It was officially founded in September of 1998, but it became one of the most frequently used internet related verbs (as in “I Googled it”) during the 2000’s.

Facebook, which boasts of having 350 million active users worldwide, wasn’t officially launched until February 4th, 2004 under the name “thefacebook.”

The iPhone (released in January of 2001 with iTunes), is now a household name.

While the first recorded heart transplant involving an artificial heart took place in April of 1969, the first FDA-approved “total artificial heart” didn’t gain full approval until this decade – October of 2004.

When this decade began, nobody would have guessed that two of the decade’s biggest athletes (Tiger Woods and Kobe Bryant) would become embroiled in personal scandals.

Woods for his still growing list of extra-marital affairs, and Bryant for an alleged sexual assault that was later dropped.

Other major sports related scandals involved Mark McGwire, Sammy Sosa and Barry Bonds. All three of whom were shoe-ins for the Baseball Hall of Fame before steroid revelations of the mid-2000’s cast a shadow over them and their sport.

The decade of the 2000’s has had two wars, and two wartime presidents. One of those presidents – Barack Obama – broke a 219 year, eight month and 21 day presidential color barrier. That’s something most voters during the last decade may have never imagined.

Nor would we have guessed that by 2008, there would be serious presidential and vice-presidential challenges by two women – Hillary Clinton and Sarah Palin.

Three of the biggest names in television news were all replaced during the decade. NBC’s lead anchorman, Tom Brokaw, was replaced by Brian Williams. CBS Evening News’ anchorman and managing editor, Dan Rather, retired in 2005. He was replaced by Katie Couric.

After the longtime anchor of ABC World News Tonight, Peter Jennings, died of lung cancer in 2005, he was replaced by Bob Woodruff and Elizabeth Vargas. In 2006, they were both replaced by Charles Gibson and the program was renamed World News with Charles Gibson.

Gibson has since retired and has been replaced by Diane Sawyer.

Yet few people would have predicted the latest entrants into the news sweepstakes – internet news and blogs.

Both forms of information providers have steadily increased in readership throughout the decade.

One blog search engine, Technorati, was said to have tracked 112 million blogs in 2007.

Last year, as a result of the keen interest shown in the 2008 presidential campaign, a Pew Research poll estimated that 40% of the people polled claimed they got the bulk of their national and international news online.

Few Americans had ever heard of the place known as Abu Ghraib prison before a 2003 military investigation revealed Iraqi prisoners had been abused by American soldiers there.

On January 14th, 2005 Uniontown resident, Specialist Charles Graner, was one of a number of soldiers who were sentenced on a variety of charges for their role in the abuse.

Two Fayette County natives were given worldwide attention during the decade.

After Edenborn’s C. Vivian Stringer took her Rutgers women’s basketball team to the NCAA final four in 2007, she was the spokesperson for the team after radio and television personality Don Imus made racially charged statements about her team.

However, Stringer’s highest achievement in her long career (and there were many) was her election to the Basketball Hall of Fame in April of 2009.

New Salem’s Ernie Davis was the winner of the 1961 Heisman Trophy, making him the first African American to achieve that honor.

While he died of leukemia in the following year – in 1962, in 2008 Hollywood paid tribute to his life with the biographical film “The Express.”