From PEOPLE Magazine Click to enlarge
RICHARD NIXON RESIGNS THE PRESIDENCY (1974)

Watergate shows we are a nation of laws, not men—and inspires an entire generation of journalists.

THE FALL OF SAIGON (1975)

The surrender of South Vietnam marks the end of America's bloodiest war of choice and, arguably, its least successful.

THE OVERTHROW OF THE SHAH AND THE AMERICAN HOSTAGE CRISIS (1979-1981)

The exile of the pro-Western Iranian leader and the American hostage crisis that follows sow the seeds of Islamic fundamentalism worldwide.

RONALD REAGAN IS ELECTED PRESIDENT (1980)

The culmination of a conservative movement convinces many Americans that "government is the problem, not the solution."

THE BERLIN WALL COMES DOWN (1989)

Nearly 30 years after it was erected, and two years after President Reagan stood at the Brandenburg Gate, imploring Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev to "tear down this wall," East and West Germans demolish it. The moment signals the reunification of Germany—and the end of the Cold War.

NELSON MANDELA IS FREED (1990)

Nelson Mandela is released from jail in South Africa, which leads to the collapse of apartheid.

THE L.A. RIOTS AND THE O.J. SIMPSON TRIAL (1991-1995)

The beatings of Rodney King and Reginald Denny—and, later, the O.J. Simpson murder trial—remind us of the chasm between black and white America.

THE CLARENCE THOMAS HEARINGS (1991)

Thomas's Supreme Court confirmation hearings bring sexual harassment out of the closet as more and more women enter the workforce.

SEPTEMBER 11, 2001

The date we will never forget. The day that changes America and the world forever. The attack that leads to ongoing and controversial wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

THE WORLD WIDE WEB BECOMES AVAILABLE TO THE GENERAL PUBLIC (Early 1990s)

Online service providers like Prodigy and America Online make it easy to access the Internet. The "information superhighway" transforms the way we work, chat, date, shop and get the news.

CAMPAIGN 2008

The historic presidential election marks the first time a woman is a viable presidential candidate, the second time a woman is on a national ticket and the first time an African-American is elected to the highest office in the land.

  • Contributors:
  • CONTRIBUTORS Elaine Aradillas,
  • Lorenzo Benet,
  • Brian Braiker,
  • Paul Chi,
  • Champ Clark,
  • Antoinette Y. Coulton,
  • Mark Dagostino,
  • Shruti Dhalwala,
  • Mary Green,
  • Wendy Grossman,
  • Liza Hamm,
  • Jessica Herndon,
  • Julie Jordan,
  • Amy Elisa Keith,
  • Kristen Mascia,
  • Farah Menass.