I'll be glad to help you out. You can find this information at eNotes in the People's Chronology group. I've pasted a link to the 1981 page in the sources section below. For convenience, here is a brief list of events:
- Ronald Reagan begins his first term as president.
- Iran releases the American hostages they had held for more than 400 days.
- Stansfield Turner resigns as head of the CIA; William Casey takes his place.
- John Hinckley attempts to assassinate Pres. Reagan; Reagan and press secretary James Brady are wounded.
- Sandra Day O'Connor becomes the first female justice to the US Supreme Court.
- An assassination attempt is made against Pope John Paul II.
- Israeli jets destroy Iraq's nuclear reactor near Baghdad.
- Francois Mitterand becomes president of France.
These are just a few of the events of 1981. Visit the site below for more information on science, medicine, nutrition, and other areas of interest in 1981.
The sworing in of Ronald Reagan as 40th President of the United States, succeeding Jimmy Carter was the important mark on US history, as this guy brought about famous reforms, and also have a famous media and acting career in the film industry. When he was first elected as President and giving hid inaugural speech (like what most of them do), one amazing event occurred, and that was the release of 52 US hostages from Iran, held there for an amazing 444 days. What a impact the President made in his debut term as President.
Next, also regarding Ronald Reagan was the failed assassination attempt against him. What so significant about this assassination was that it was not done by any terrorist or by any political motives, but it was committed by a gunman, John Hinckley, outside of the Hilton Washington hotel. He wanted to kill the President, not because he hated his guts or wanted to destroy America (like what extremists would do to promote jihad), but he wanted to impress actress Jodie Foster, whom he had a crush on. Luckily, it missed Regan's heart by an inch and just pierced his chest, so not much blood loss. If it had hit, it would have been fatal.
Other than Ronald Reagan ascendancy as President, other events like the Bihar train disaster and also the launching of MTV in television, which proved to be a big hit among the youth. Thee are many events that made 1981 a memorable year, but it is too many to tell, but the most significant one of it all was Ronald Reagan being the President of US. I think he was the first to be an actor and also a President in his life.
1981 was not just the year Regan was elected. It was the year his policies began. The 1980's were very big times for the AIDS epidemic in the country. The CDC was doing all kinds of research and trying to change policy, but an uncooperative public and political arena prevented people from doing anything that could curb the spread of the disease. Homosexuals were in denial about the proliferation of the virus in bath houses and the federal government didn't care about funding research because it was only affecting gays and drug users and who cared about them in the 80's. It wasn't until AIDS reared it's ugly head in the "general population" as in white people who were not poor that any real move was made to figure it out. But by then the damage was done and hundreds of thousands of people were infected and most scientists couldn't share what they knew or shared what they knew, but were rejected. Years and years of complacency, denial, hatred, and discrimination in the 1980's allowed the AIDS virus to explode in the US.