10 Historical Photos to Reflect on Before The New Year

10 Timeless Photos to Think About Before The New Year 

As the year comes to an end, self-reflection and resolutions are just beginning. As a country, we’ve been through a tough past two years dealing with a global pandemic, vast social unrest, and a hostile election. With every new year however, comes the promise of new challenges and new beginnings-ideally hopefully ones. Here are 10 famous U.S. photos that will remind you how far we’ve come and how far we’ve yet to go.

1. The Blue Marble

This breathtaking picture of our beautiful planet was taken on December 7, 1972; captured by Harrison Schmitt and Ron Evans, of the Apollo 17 crew about 18,000 miles from the Earth while on its way to the moon, The Blue Marble remains one of the most recognizable symbols of unity and prosperity on our planet. The Blue Marble is one of the most reproduced images in history taking up space in science classrooms, bedroom walls, and laboratories dedicated to expanding the knowledge about this astonishing place we call home. 

2. Raising the Flag on Iwo Jima(1945)

During the war in the Pacific towards the end of WWII, the brutal Battle of Iwo Jima commenced on February 19th, 1945, and finally ended almost an entire month later on March 26th, 1945. The image that forever signifies the end of the battle, despite the photo being taken toward the beginning, is of 6 marine corps soldiers raising the flag among debris and decay. An iconic symbol of hope for Americans and the Allies. Today, this image resides in multiple museums including the Washington DC Newseum, The National Museum of The Marine Corps, and The National Museum of The Pacific War.

3. The March on Washington(1963)

The March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom took place on August 28th, 1963 led by Martin Luther King Jr. and the NAACP. Martin Luther King Jr addressed the crowd with his immortal “I Have A Dream” speech which is one of the most common associations when discussing the history of civil rights in America. King’s soft smile as he looks to his supporters represents the promising future America is working towards- and still working towards today. Though we have a long journey to achieve true equality and justice in America this image reminds us to never stop fighting racism and inequalities we see every day.  

4. The Twin Towers on 9/11

This year marked 20 years since the unforgettable tragedy that took place on September 11th, 2001. This polarizing image of New York City-one of the most vibrant and industrial cities in America-under attack is simply devastating. However, this photo reminds us to remember and honor those who lost and gave their lives on this infamous day. From the victims of the plane hijackings to the thousands of employees of The World Trade Center, and finally the numerous police, firefighters, and paramedics. An image that stains the minds of all who were witnesses and those of newer generations that have to grapple with the aftermath of an event they do not remember. 

5. Attack on Pearl Harbor

The 80th anniversary of The Bombing of Pearl Harbor recently occurred and with it came sorrow and remembrance of yet another intensely dark time for our country. Known to many as the catalyst for America’s entrance into WWII, this picture barely encapsulates this catastrophic attack. Just two decades from being a 100-year-old event, this image will always serve as a reminder of the pure horrors of war and perhaps encourage Americans to envision ways we can prevent such widespread violence. 

6. The Supreme Court Declares Gay Marriage is Legal in All 50 states(2015)

For generations, the LGBTQIA+ community has been fighting for the simple human right to love. Time Magazine was ahead of the curve in 2013, with two different covers by photographer Peter Hapak, available in 2013. In 2015, The Supreme Court ruled that discrimination of marriage based on sex is unconstitutional thereby declaring the legalization of same-sex marriage across the country. A truly joyous occasion for individuals who’ve inhibited our society for so long but have been outcasted by the legal system. This image, courtesy of Buzzfeed Though there is much work to be done when ensuring that all Americans regardless of sexuality or gender gain equal opportunities, this milestone is a step in the right direction.

7. The Challenger Explosion 

Just at the start of 1986, 7 brave and not forgotten volunteers boarded the Challenger Space Shuttle only to have it explode mid-air just 73 seconds after takeoff. Among the victims was the first teacher in space Christa McAuliffe and the first Asian-American astronaut Ellison Onizuka. Many were watching The Challenger while it was broadcast live on CNN and thus witnessed the fatal explosion. This image serves as a constant reminder to NASA and other space programs to further research space travel so that tragedies like these don’t happen again. 

8. Tank Man (1989) 

After student protests in Beijing had been ongoing for 2 weeks straight The Chinese Government deployed troops to Tiananmen square. The photo captured depicts a single man standing in front of the approaching Tanks. Video footage showed his demonstration in full but the photo is a phenomenal showcase of protest. While not captured in the U.S, this photo reminds us globally that one small action could have monumental effects. 

9. White Dress of Marilyn Monroe 

Noted as one of the most iconic photos in Hollywood history, Marilyn Monroe’s flying skirt photo represented a time before Hollywood was inundated with constant sexualization and depictions of sexuality. Taken while on the set of The Seven Year Itch the photo infuriated her husband Joe DiMaggio as well as other celebrities and ordinary citizens alike.

It’s shocking to think that this photo could be seen as promiscuous in our modern-day and age. The dress, designed by William Travilla  though controversial, remains an iconic piece of fashion. Marilyn Monroe will always remain a monumentally influential figure despite dying tragically young. 




10. Bradley Cooper’s Oscar Selfie 

The 2014 Oscar had tons of Iconic moments from Ellen DeGeneres’s dry, quippy, jokes, to Jennifer Lawrence’s “down to earth” press conference shortly after. No other image is quite as recognizable as this image taken by Bradley Cooper after he and a bunch of other stars photobombed Ellen’s signature Oscar selfie. 

With award season approaching, and with the event returning mostly to normal this year, this iconic selfie encourages us to never stop smiling even in times that seem impossible to push through.