BILOXI, Miss. (WLOX) - It’s hard to describe a year that started off with Australian wildfires, a fatal U.S. airstrike in Iraq and ended with socially distant holiday celebrations, but a handful of South Mississippi beachgoers try and reflect on the most memorable moments of 2020.
“It was just a year like no other.” Miller Gunn said.
A glance back at 2020 will show 365 days filled with new problems, quick solutions and people being stretched beyond their comfort zones.
“The way of life was pretty much changed. Everything that we’re used to flew out the window.” said Gunn.
The most notable aspect of the year, the United States becoming the epicenter for the COVID-19 pandemic. And just like countries worldwide, national leaders imposed lockdowns and safety restrictions to try and quell the virus.
“(It was) the interaction with people, inability to be free to go and not have to wear a mask everywhere you go.” said Louise Solecki.
Before the nation dealt with the health and economic impacts of the pandemic, the country’s political scene started the year with a presidential impeachment trial.
President Donald Trump was brought up on charges, that he asked Ukraine to investigate Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter, but he was ultimately acquitted by the senate in February.
Focus shifted from the trial to the campaign trail, where a crowd of Democrats hoped for the presidential nomination for the November 3rd election.
The party chose Joe Biden as its candidate in June and was eventually called President-Elect on November 7th, after delays in counting votes, calls for recounts and investigations.
“We got the election behind us,” Gunn said. “Win or lose it’s behind us so we can start moving forward.”
All of that was happening, while crowds of people continued to protest racial injustice and police brutality following the deaths of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery and Breonna Taylor at the hands of law enforcement.
Black Lives Matter movements happened in major cities across the U.S. and even here locally from Gulfport to Moss Point.
To add to that, the Gulf Coast endured a highly active hurricane season with the National Hurricane Center using the Greek alphabet to name 30 storms. This year 12 systems made landfall, including Hurricane Zeta that brought the most destruction the Coast has seen since Hurricane Katrina back in 2005.
But, beachgoers said the challenges of the year brought out the best of themselves.
“You never know what’s going to happen and you have to be flexible and adapt.” Steve Solecki said.
In a year with too many lows and not enough highs, there was some progress made even along the Mississippi Gulf Coast.
“Time to move on and move forward,” said Solecki. “That’s all we can do.”
Long lines of voters decided to remove a Jim Crow provision from the state constitution, adopt a medical marijuana program and welcome a new state flag after the Confederate emblem flew over the Magnolia State for 126 years.
Across the region, medical facilities gladly received the COVID-19 vaccine after efforts from Operation Warp Speed to accelerate its development and distribution.
“I think that was quite unreal how quickly that came to market,” Louise Solecki said.
And while stuck at home through quarantine, families learned to appreciate each other’s company.
“We got a five year old, a four year old and a one year old and we got a lot of extra quality time with them,” Gunn said. “Some days it felt like a little too much.”
There was also more emphasis in starting overdue dialogues on race, religion and politics.
“Hopefully there’s a little more harmony and peace.” said Gunn.
And while there is still work to be done, laws to pass, people to help and even lawns to be clean, there are high hopes for better days in the year to come.
“Bye, bye 2020.” said Louise.