Time misses mark on ‘Person of the Year’


The Tribune

If 2020 has taught us anything, it’s that some traditions need to be broken under extraordinary circumstances.

Over the last nine months, millions of lives across the globe have been upended by the COVID-19 pandemic.

From Columbus, Indiana, to Wuhan, China and everywhere in between, the virus has changed the way our global community functions, and revealed what’s essential to keeping society’s gears moving.

At the front of the fight are the doctors, nurses and other emergency service workers who are putting their lives in danger every day to help get the public health crisis under control. The pandemic has also revealed just how important services such as grocery stores are during dire times.

Those facts alone make Time magazine’s selection of Joe Biden and Kamala Harris at “Person of the Year” egregious.

In 1927, Time named Charles Lindbergh, who completed the first solo transatlantic flight in history, as its inaugural “Man of the Year.” (The award was later switched to “Person of the Year” in 1999.)

Individuals such as Mahatma Gandhi (1930), Winston Churchill (1940 and 1949), Martin Luther King Jr. (1963), and Pope John Paul II (1994) have all received the honor, but the magazine has also selected groups over the last 93 years. “The America fighting-man,” representing U.S. troops involved in the Korean War was selected in 1950; “The Middle Americans,” also referred to as “ the silent majority” was picked in 1969; “The Endangered Earth” was chosen in 1988; and content creators on the World Wide Web took the honor in 2006.

According to Time’s website, “the 2020 choice is also the latest in a nearly nine-decade long tradition of naming a president-elect as Person of the Year.”

That statement isn’t completely true.

Its website also says, “Winning a presidential election for the first Time does not guarantee one will be named Person of the Year…Dwight D. Eisenhower won his first presidential election in a landslide in 1952, but that year’s title went to Queen Elizabeth II, named ‘Woman of the Year’ for ascending to the throne that February at the age of 25.”

There’s no doubt that the results of the general election are significant, especially with the first-ever woman, and person of color, being elected as vice president. However, some stories are bigger than politics.

It’s a shame that Time feels that those essential workers and their families haven’t made the biggest impact this year. The individuals who are on the frontlines of the pandemic may not have their names etched in history books, but should never be forgotten for their work in 2020.

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