Top 5 national stories of 2004
Metro’s debut wasn’t the only noteworthy event in 2004. Here’s a look back at some of the biggest stories that dominated the headlines 10 years ago.
1. The presidential election
Following the 2000 election that made us all too familiar with Florida’s election process and the term “hanging chads,” the 2004 presidential vote once again came down to one state. President George W. Bush beat Democratic challenger John Kerry when he garnered Ohio’s 20 electoral votes. Unlike in 2000, however, Bush also won the popular vote, with 51 percent to Kerry’s 48 percent. Voter turnout also reached the highest it had been since 1968, with nearly 60 percent of the nation going to polls to cast their ballots.
2. Meet Thefacebook
Social media? No one had ever heard of it in 2004, until Mark Zuckerberg in February launched what was then called Thefacebook.com at Harvard University. College students loved the concept and it quickly spread across the globe. A decade later, Facebook says it has 1.15 billion monthly active users globally, with 802 million daily active users around the world.
3. Gay Marriage
Massachusetts became the first state to legalize same-sex marriage in May 2004, marking a major victory for the gay rights movement. Months after the state’s first legal same-sex marriages took place, voters in 11 states backed referendums making it illegal. The issue has remained contentious over the past 10 years, with 17 states now offering legal same-sex marriages and 33 states banning it.
4. Abu Ghraib
In May 2004, after months of reports of prisoner abuse at the hands of U.S. soldiers at Abu Ghraib, formal charges were brought against those involved in the torture. Photographs taken by U.S. soldiers showing Iraqi prisoners being humiliated and abused eventually led President Bush to issue a formal apology for the human rights violations.
5. Natural disasters
For many in 2004, the idea of a tsunami wiping an entire region off the map was something that only existed in the movies. That was until Dec. 26, when a 9.0 earthquake in the Indian Ocean sent a wall of water from Thailand to Somalia, killing 150,000 people and leaving hundreds of thousands more without homes, food, water or electricity. The tsunami hit just weeks after four hurricanes devastated several parts of the U.S. East Coast.