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Defining moments of 2020

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2020 has been a year of trials and triumphs ample enough to fill the span of a decade. The events of the past twelve months have fundamentally changed our lives, and us, so deeply that it is apparent in our language. Terms like “social distancing” and “8:46” have entered the collective vocabulary, while the nation bonded over a unifying distrust for one Carole Baskin.

Who would have predicted that toilet paper would be your most prized commodity, or that Mississippi would replace the state flag and legalize medical marijuana in the same year?

Here are a few other defining moments of 2020 that we noted in the Vicksburg Daily News:

Perhaps an omen for dark days to come, the year 2020 began in tragedy. Kobe Bryant, 20-year-Laker and legend, along with his young daughter and crew, perished in a helicopter crash Sunday, Jan. 26.

A few days later, Powerball and Mega Million lottery tickets went on sale and Mississippians responded in earnest, buying $516,986 worth on the first day.

MEMA Drone photo of the Satartia gas line explosion site.

A pressurized pipe rupture in Satartia injured 46 people in February. 300 residents were evacuated as a result of the explosion.

(Photo by Clinic Vita, CC BY-SA 4.0)

While the first case of COVID-19 in the U.S. was diagnosed Jan. 20, it was not until March that Vicksburg was placed under a Civil Emergency Proclamation. These measures were the first of an evolving set of precautionary requirements to reduce the spread of the novel coronavirus.

Image by mohamed Hassan from Pixabay

Schools moved to virtual learning and social service businesses, like day cares, nail salons and barber shops, were required to close as Vicksburg was encouraged to ‘Shelter in Place.

By April, Warren County had lost it’s first resident to COVID-19.

Bears with life jackets in a flood. [Photo by Jimmy Deere]

While the community was reeling from the radical lifestyle changes brought about by the pandemic, residents in the flooded backwater in northern Warren County were coming up with creative ways to cut through the noise and have their cries to finally #finishthepumps be heard.

Todd Tilghman was named the winner of ‘The Voice’ Tuesday. (Photo source: NBC)

On May 19, Mississippi pastor Todd Tilghman’s dreams were realized when he won ‘The Voice’. The pastor, who had previously only performed at church, won $100,000 and a record deal with Universal Music Group on the show.

Just a couple of days later, the community was rocked by disturbing videos depicting a young woman abusing her elderly relative that were circulating online. By the week’s end, the perpetrator of the abuse was behind bars.

George Floyd

By May 25, though, the entire nation was reeling from footage of the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Across the country, protestors and rioters filled the streets and demanded justice and reform.

Vicksburg held it’s own peaceful protest in honor of George Floyd and to march for social justice.

Rodney Boss sits outside the house he rents in south Jackson while his fiance watched over their two children, aged 1 and 5, inside. One-and-a-half months behind on rent and his claim for unemployment stuck in investigations, Boss worries his family will soon face eviction in the middle of a pandemic. (Photo by Eric J. Shelton, Mississippi Today)

It is now June, and 19% of Mississippi’s labor force has filed for unemployment benefits while Gov. Tate Reeves warns that Mississippi is entering a ‘sharp, painful’ recession.

Nikitta and Donnie Hamlin (Photo courtesy Nikitta Hamlin)

Even so, Vicksburg resident Nikitta Hamlin managed to pull together enough to surprise her husband, Donnie, with the start of his own dump-truck company last June.

Final five potential flag designs

June 27 was a historic day in Mississippi. On this day, the state Senate passed the bill clearing the way to change our state flag.

(Photo by Lindsay Fox from Newport beach, United States – Cigarette Smoking, CC BY 2.0)

Another historic change last summer was the increase of the age to buy tobacco products to 21.

In an effort to help educate business owners and the public on prevention measures, Mayor Flaggs appointed a COVID-19 compliance officer in July.

Edwards police Sgt. Kelvin Mixon (Photo courtesy EPD)

On July 19, Sgt. Kelvin Mixon of the Edwards Police Department died of COVID-19 after 20-years of service to the community.

By summer’s end, battle-weary mothers of virtually-educated and socially sequestered children, adjusting to the new lifestyle trust upon them, found a way to give one another a little reprieve in the form of ‘dusting’.

A sudden plant explosion in Byrum killed two men in August. Sadly, one of the men was Vicksburg’s William Jackson.

Vicksburg Police Chief Milton Moore and Mayor George Flaggs Jr. led the first Blue Duck group ride. (Photo by Thomas Parker)

In September, Vicksburg became first city in Mississippi to offer app-based electric scooter rentals.

Deion Sanders (photo courtesy JSU)

The excitement of sports fans was tangible last fall with the announcement that Deion Sanders would take over as head football coach at Jackson State University.

Photo by David Day

Traffic on the Mississippi River bridge was blocked for an entire day after an 18-wheeler damaged a sign truss in an accident Sept. 20.

The Vicksburg Daily News sponsored ‘Festival on the River’ in October, featuring the Mustang Sally Band.

Michael Battle, Angela Shelby, Danielle Williams, Reed Birdsong, Milton Moore, Kofi Louis, Jerry Briggs, Linda Shows, Alicia Louis, Thomas Parker, Martin Pace, Percy Wright, and Cora Collins.

In a heart-warming example of unity, our community rallied in support of a young man after he endured a terrifying robbery in his neighborhood.

Soon after came Election Day, where Warren County reported record-breaking voter turnout.

Asya Branch (VDN file photo)

In November, Miss Mississippi Asya Branch was crowned Miss USA 2020.

The new Mississippi state flag flying at city hall (photo by David Day)

On Nov. 17, Vicksburg raised the new Mississippi flag for the first time.

The tragic disappearance of two young hunters on the Mississippi River Dec. 3 launched an exhaustive search effort that still continues today.  The Warren County Sheriff’s Office, along with many other agencies, has worked tirelessly to bring closure to the families.

Meanwhile, on Dec. 12, civil rights icon Medgar Evers’ house was designated a national monument.

Also in December, Mississippi received its first batch of the COVID-19 vaccines.

Some of the food collected at ERDC Under the Lights. (photo by Thomas Parker)

And finally, in spite of the financially challenging year we have all endured, or perhaps because of it, ERDC Under the Lights collected more than 7,000 pounds of food last year. Proving that when the going gets tough, the folks in Vicksburg take care of each other.

There is no doubt that we, as a society and as individuals, have just faced a gauntlet of unprecedented challenges in 2020.  In doing so, we have been reminded of our resilience and ingenuity. We have seen strangers come together to support neighbors in need. We have seen real progress in racial equality and social reforms. We have seen growth in our city in spite of the economic barriers. And while many of the same challenges will follow us into 2021, together, we will surely overcome.

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