April 20, 1999 — The Columbine Massacre

Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold walked into Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado, with murder on their minds. At 11:19 AM, the pair opened fire. By the time the stopped shooting, a little under a half hour later, they had killed 13 people and injured 21 others (3 more people sustained injuries fleeing the pair). At approximately 12:08 PM, the pair finished their rampage by committing suicide.

In the aftermath, the entire American nation descended into a storm of grief and anger. Rumours and blame-throwing flew thick and fast, as a desperate search for an explanation (or, if you’re more cynical, a scapegoat), chased its own tail around and around and around, while the victims of the slayings became martyrs and the killers the greatest villains since Hitler.

More than a decade later, we know little more than we did then. Although several rumours regarding the killings have been thoroughly debunked, many of these remain widely believed. Short of a combination of telepathy and time travel, we will never know.

December 31, 1999 — The Twentieth Century ends

Technically, the Twentieth Century did not end for another year, at the end of the year 2000. But in the popular imagination, the last day of 1999 was the last day of the millennium. A day when many a religious – and one big secular – apocalypse was counted down to, to hit at the stroke of midnight. But neither the Second Coming nor the Y2K bug proved to be that big a threat.

The Twentieth Century was over with, and now, the 21st Century – the future – could begin. Only it turned out that if apocalypse wasn’t just around the corner, neither was utopia. And only 21 months into the new century, we’d all be dragged into a brand new endless Cold War when we’d just finally shaken off the last one.