Top 10 Defining Moments of 2000s America

Script written by Billy Keeley. After a relatively prosperous period, America was hit with some of its greatest challenges, only to respond with long-awaited changes that reshaped the course of the nation during this decade. For this list, we’ve chosen moments that we felt best represent this essential decade in American history. Join WatchMojo.com as we count down our picks for the top 10 defining moments in 2000s America. Special thanks to our users Grungeman23, Emily JoAnn Warden, MultiPearl007, bormannator and RavynC for submitting the idea on our Suggest Page at WatchMojo.comsuggest
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Script written by Billy Keeley.

After a relatively prosperous period, America was hit with some of its greatest challenges, only to respond with long-awaited changes that reshaped the course of the nation during this decade. Welcome to WatchMojo.com, and today we’re counting down our picks for the top 10 defining moments in 2000s America.

For this list, we’ve chosen moments that we felt best represent this essential decade in American history.

#10: Stigma of Steroids in Sports
2000s

Long-hidden under the bright lights of sports, steroid abuse was exposed this decade. Former players like José Canseco opened up about their use, leading to rigorous and refined anti-doping programs across the major sports organizations. From Marion Jones to Mark McGwire, the resulting investigations shattered many reputations and achievements. Tests to detect performance-enhancing drugs continue to evolve, but recent scandals show that athletes still use to seek that ever-desirable competitive edge.

#9: Corporate Scandals
2000s

The early 2000s were host to an abnormally large amount of corporate corruption and bankruptcies. Facing debt in a recessing economy, major companies like Enron and WorldCom used fraudulent schemes to disguise their massive losses. However, in every case, the sham came to an end, and several corporations toppled to the tune of billions of dollars. Enron’s fall was especially bloody, with trials and lawsuits dragging on throughout the decade.

#8: Same-Sex Marriage Legalized in Some States
November 18, 2003

At decade’s start, same-sex marriage wasn’t permitted anywhere in the United States. This all changed in 2003 when the Massachusetts Supreme Court legalized it. Marriages were authorized within many states at a torrid pace, four total by decade’s end. This started a major movement for gay rights, as antiquated laws and policies were slowly phased out. Marriage legalization has strongly continued since, with its seeds first planted in the 2000s.

#7: USA PATRIOT Act
October 26, 2001

The actions of 9/11 stunned the American people, and it was to be expected that the government attempt to increase security measures. The Patriot Act was the resulting Act of Congress, including initiatives meant to empower investigations into terrorist activity. Many criticized the act for violating civil liberties with expanded government surveillance and stringent immigration policies. The debate continues, as the Patriot Act has survived through the years with minor changes.

#6: SoLoMo (Social-Local-Mobile)
2000s

The 2000s saw Americans again change the way they communicate. Social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, and MySpace attracted millions of users to chat and share their pictures, interests, and daily lives. This was aided by the prominent advancement of the cell phone to the smart phone in the next decade. No longer mere communication devices, they allowed people to experience a full electronic world from anywhere at anytime: the social grid was inescapable.

#5: Hurricane Katrina
August 23-30, 2005

The United States’ costliest natural disaster shook the country’s core in the summer of 2005. Hurricane Katrina terrorized the Gulf coast, killing nearly 2,000 people and leading people to question a connection to climate change. The disaster was worsened by the failure of levees in New Orleans and left much of the city flooded. Afterwards, criticism was directed at the federal and state governments for unorganized rescue efforts and insufficient preparation.

#4: Econopocalypse
2007-09

With the economic success under President Clinton a distant memory, the U.S. suffered a serious recession starting at the end of 2007. The economic collapse was fueled by the burst of the housing bubble earlier in the year. To make matters worse, the federal budget was in a deep deficit, limited by ongoing warfare. Lehman Brothers declared bankruptcy and unemployment hit a peak of 10 percent. Plans were introduced to curtail the damage, but the nation is still recovering today.

#3: Election of Barack Obama
November 4, 2008

Wheels of change kicked into motion when Senator Barack Obama announced his decision to run for the presidency in 2007. Defeating Senator Hillary Clinton to become the primary Democratic candidate, the once-impossible dream of an African-American president no longer seemed a fantasy. Obama’s economic plan and opposition to the Iraq War rocketed him into the White House on Election Day and brought new hope to America.

#2: A Decade of War
2001-Present

Caught off guard by an attack on its own soil, America pushed against foreign threats for much of the 2000s. Operation Enduring Freedom was launched to eliminate al-Qaeda leadership in Afghanistan, while the Iraq War served to overthrow Saddam Hussein and rebuild a new government. Though Hussein and Osama Bin Laden were eventually eliminated, the wars dragged on with continuous insurgency. Numerous U.S. troops were lost, but the battle in Afghanistan raged on.

Honorable Mentions

- Death of Michael Jackson (June 25, 2009)
- Rise of Reality TV (2000s)

#1: September 11 Attacks
September 11, 2001

A date that will forever live in infamy, the events of 9/11 completely altered the country’s course. In protest of U.S. foreign policy, terrorist group al-Qaeda hijacked four commercial airliners and crashed them into the World Trade Center, the Pentagon, and a Pennsylvania field, leaving nearly 3,000 casualties. The deadliest attack on America in six decades, the losses were unfathomable and the grieving process long and challenging. The attacks defined the era for America, as it spent much of the decade in combat seeking to prevent future tragedies.

Do you agree with our list? Which events do you think defined 2000s America and beyond? For more informative top 10s, be sure to subscribe to WatchMojo.com.
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