I have several--teaching overseas for a year was significant since I now am better able to consider issues from an "other than American" viewpoint. I watched the '96 Olympics from a South Korean viewpoint on South Korean TV...much different than our own coverage of the events as you might expect.
The birth of my children were significant events that changed my life more than I could have ever imagined.
The death of my father was a cage-rattler. He had been sick for many years, but that didn't make the actual event of his death any less severe. That was three years ago and I still miss him terribly.
My mother's diagnosis of ovarian cancer has made me stop and survey things more carefully. I have a calmer, more targeted spirit than I did before...there is a purpose in my life now that I never felt as strongly before this roller coaster ride.
I am a firm believer that things and people come into our lives--bad or good--to mold us into the people we are supposed to become. There is something to be learned from every experience. Dad used to say, "That which does not kill us only makes us stronger." There is much truth in this statement.
While I'm not exactly a grey beard, I'll nominate the toppling of the Berlin Wall as a significant moment in history. That was when our generation began to think, "What if communism can truly be defeated?" Then, when The Soviet Union collapsed in 1996, we saw the rise of democracy on a level never deemed possible only five, ten years before.
If you want to think further back, and this is far beyond my time, what about the first detonation of an atom bomb? When the American forces poured a furious wave of devastation on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the world knew what it was to have a true super power on the international scene... one that was capable of truly wonderful and horrible things. I can't think of any greater show of power.
On the wider scope, the 9-11 attacks were the big thing but that is because I am too young for anything else. I vaguely remember Desert Storm as that was the first "real war" my generation experienced (I was born in 1983). 9-11 really got a lot of people thinking about how we treat ourselves, the world, and forces us to think about how the rest of the world functions and views us as well.
My personal event was when my dad had a brain aneurysm a few years back and almost died (he is 100% now) so I really reevaluated my priorities and views of family.
If you are speaking of national and international events, I would have to say September 11, 2001's terrorist attacks changed so much about how I view the world, our national security, and my own values/goals/beliefs. Another event that I remember vividly as a child was the fall of the Berlin Wall. That was a monumental moment in world history.
As for personal events, the births of my two children 8 and 6 years ago and the deaths of my father 8 years ago and my boyfriend 1 1/2 years ago have been significant to my life in many ways!
Although I can't argue with 9/11, I'll nominate a year --- 1968 when many of you probably weren't around. The assassination of Martin Luther King in April, Robert Kennedy in June, the Democratic convention and the ever escalating war in Vietnam tore apart a generation in a way that nothing else ever has in my lifetime. If I can be a little generous with the calendar, the Woodstock experience in 1969 spoke of the new generation; it was only a temporary thing, but it representated a radical change in the values of an entire generation.
That's a rather personal question, don't you think? For me, perhaps the most significant event that happened in my life had to be the death of my father. I was utterly devasted because his death was sudden and unexpected, and he was far too young to die when he did. My life changed so much after that, and I'm not the same person I was before.
Are you looking for what we think are important national or international events that occurred during our lifetimes? Or are you looking for things that happened to people individually and that shaped their lives?
I be the one to bring up the new significant event. I don't really like politics never been into it, but President Obama inauguration is really significant. I read somewhere that his inauguration is going to cost 150 million dollars. Bill Clintons inauguration was 33 million and George Bush was 42 million. How can they spend this much money when the economy is so bad?