2020 is definitely “one for the history books”


And now, Words and their stories, from VOA Learn English.

It is safe to say that the year 2020 has been “one for the history books”. It stands out. And it’s worth remembering that historians will certainly talk about it in history books.

Sadly, 2020 will be remembered mainly for a bad reason: the coronavirus pandemic. It will also go down in history as the year of face masks and quarantines.

Of course, 2020 did not start as a year that would “make history”. It started out as a normal year. However, when health officials said the virus had turned into a global pandemic … it was ‘history in the making’. Countries closed their borders, schools and businesses closed, and people stayed inside.

Although something good could also be “one for the history books“. For example, hard work and sacrifice health workers during the pandemic is also “one for the history books”. Scientists who make an effective vaccine will also make history for their important work.

History fondly remembers certain years. Maybe there had been a World Cup, a space launch, or the Olympics for the history books.

But not 2020.

Let’s imagine that the year 2020 has feelings. It can be unpleasant to know that this is “going down in history” as the year of the COVID-19 pandemic. This could tell us that a pandemic was not in his plans. You could say that the pandemic is not that bad. It could mean that everyone is doing a big deal with nothing.

This would put 2020 “on the wrong side of history”. This phrase generally describes outdated decisions, practices or opinions. No one wants to be “on the wrong side of history”.

So maybe 2020 should stop talking. If the people had the goodwill for this unfortunate year … that would be “history”. This goodwill would be forgotten. If something is “history” it’s gone, destroyed, or at least in very serious trouble.

But 2020 is not unreasonable. More likely, he is probably hoping that it will be “the old story” soon. If we say that something is “ancient history” it is usually a troubled event that is long forgotten. People have evolved. In other words, 2020 can hope we forget about it altogether.

Although, to forget it would be foolish and even dangerous. The lessons of history can be important.

In fact, we have a saying: “those who do not learn history are destined to repeat it. If we don’t study history, our destiny might be to make the same mistakes over and over again.

And here is another saying: “history repeats itself often”. So it may be wise to remember the valuable lessons we learned in 2020.

While it may have been a very difficult year for many people, we have to fight the urge to “rewrite history”. When we “rewrite history” we are recreating facts to match our own thinking or our own plans.

So for 2020 we say this: do despair. Do not be sad. You are part of our “shared history”. In your dark and uncertain days, there were also bright and beautiful times. There were people who cared for each other and selfless heroes. And we are not likely to forget them or you. All are intended for history books.

And these are the words and their stories.

Until next time… I’m Anna Matteo.

Anna Matteo wrote this story for VOA Learning English. Hai Do was the editor.


Words in this story

sacrifice nm giving up something you want to keep, in particular to get or do something else or to help someone

facial mask – not. a mask or protective cover for the face or part of the face

quarantine – not. the period of time that a person or animal who has a disease or could have a disease is kept away from others to prevent the disease from spreading

unfortunate – adj. to have bad luck : not appropriate or desirable

destined – v. designate, assign or dedicate in advance

despair – v. no longer have any hope or belief that a situation will improve or change


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