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Back to the Roaring ‘20s?
THE YEAR THAT CHANGED AMERICA
This January, we’re not just starting a new year; we’re entering a brand-new decade. It’s the 2020s, and if this decade will be anything like the last time we were in the ’20s, it’s going to be a time of great changes. In preparation for 2020, I did some research into 1920. The Roaring ‘20s are remembered for jazz and flapper girls, but the decade started with some major events that changed the nation forever. The League of Nations was established. World War I was called the “war to end all wars.” After the signing of the Treaty of Versailles, world nations sought to prevent future wars. The League of Nations, a precursor to the United Nations, was the first worldwide organization dedicated to maintaining world peace. President Woodrow Wilson helped architect the organization, but the U.S. Congress voted against joining the League. Two constitutional amendments were made. The 18th and 19th Amendments were both passed in 1920. The 18th Amendment, which started the Prohibition Era, banned the manufacture, transportation, and sale of alcohol. Meanwhile, the much overdue 19th Amendment gave women the right to vote in the United States. Mass media began. The presidential election of 1920 marked the first time a commercially licensed radio station broadcast live results of the election. Being able to transmit breaking news was unprecedented. This “talking box” exploded in popularity. In 1923, Americans bought over 500,000 radios, and radio signals covered the whole country. The NFL was founded. Originally founded as the American Professional Football Association (APFA), the NFL began with just 10 teams from four states. It was the first professional football league to successfully establish a nationwide presence. The year 1920 wasn’t all football, radio, and votes for women, however. While I was researching significant events from the year 1920, I was surprised to learn some darker details I never expected. There was a terrorist attack. Thirty-eight people were killed and hundreds were injured when a horse-drawn cart carrying a massive bomb exploded on the busiest corner on Wall Street. Called the “Wall Street Bombing,” it was the deadliest terrorist attack on American soil at that time. The KKK regained power. The Ku Klux Klan had a terrifying comeback in 1920, as new leadership had an eye for publicity. Their reign of terror spread across the country.
Ponzi began his scheme. Charles Ponzi set up a business called the Security Exchange Company to bring in investors so he could buy international reply coupons. The investors were victims of the world’s most famous Ponzi scheme. Who would have thought there was a terrorist attack in 1920? Or that the KKK managed to resurface time and time again? Terrorists and hate groups feel like modern problems, but the reality is we’ve been dealing with these things for a long time. For all the miraculous changes we’ve seen over the last century, a hundred years later, we still have a lot of the bad stuff, too. I guess human nature hasn’t changed in thousands of years, let alone the last hundred. The “war to end all wars” was followed by World War II, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, and the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. But I believe that, despite all this, the human condition is a lot better than it was a century ago. Back in 1920, there were people fighting back against hatred and injustice, and today, we still see people who want to do the right thing. When the bad stuff starts to rear its ugly head, there are still good people who say, “No. We won’t allow this.” The good stuff in the world keeps going; it gains momentum and takes us farther than we could have ever imagined. I can’t imagine what the next century will bring. Our world will be a completely different place in 2120, but whatever the difference, I believe we can count on some things staying the same ... God will still be in charge, human beings will still need redeeming, and good will ultimately prevail over evil.
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