Nebraska has made history countless times – usually for the best, but sometimes for less than stellar reasons. These are 10 times the entire country had its eyes on our state.
When the president held a strategy session at Offutt on 9/11
Just after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, President George W. Bush was flown on Air Force One to an underground bunker at Offutt Air Force Base. The bunker is one of several safe places designated for the president and other high-ranking government officials in case of an emergency. The president held an hour-long teleconference from the bunker with Washington officials before it was determined that it was safe for him to return to Washington.
The 1966, 1968, and 1969 race riots in Omaha
A variety of factors contributed to long periods of racial unrest in Nebraska in the 1960s. Riots were common, and many turned violent. The National Guard was called in to restore order to the city.
The Westroads Mall mass murder in 2007
In the deadliest mass murder since the days of Charles Starkweather, a 19-year-old man walked into the Von Maur store at Westroads Mall in Omaha and killed nine people, including himself. Four others were injured. The massacre was even more tragic due to the fact that it occurred during the holiday season.
When Ebola patients were flown to the Nebraska Medical Center for treatment
The Ebola epidemic of 2014 claimed the lives of approximately 8000 people, most in Africa. Several patients were treated for the disease at the University of Nebraska Medical Center in 2014 and 2015, and several more were observed there after exposure to the virus. The Medical Center's unique biocontainment unit and the staff who run it have been nationally praised for their quick and effective response to the situation.
When Nebraska banned the death penalty
Earlier in 2015, Nebraska became the first conservative state in more than four decades to abolish the death penalty. The repeal bill passed through the Legislature three times this year, each gaining majority approval. When the issue reached the governor's desk he vetoed the ban, but his vote was overridden and the capital punishment ban stood.
When the Fort Calhoun nuclear power plant flooded in 2011
The Fort Calhoun nuclear power plant was already shut down for refueling in 2011 when the Missouri River flooded, surrounding the facility. Flood berms protected vital buildings from taking on flood water. A small electrical fire at that time caused a partial evacuation of the facility, heightening already-sharpened worries about the facility's safety. Although the Omaha Public Power District issued an alert, they maintained that the public was never in danger. Soon after, a flood berm collapsed, allowing water to closely surround the buildings. A few days later, a machine being used to remove seepage water caught on fire, injuring a worker but posing no danger to anyone else. All of these small incidents in quick succession raised national concerns about the facility's safety. Because the incidents occurred soon after the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster, the world was already extremely nervous about any abnormal situations at nuclear plants. Some groups still insists the facility is unsafe and are calling for its permanent shutdown.
The Tecumseh State Correctional Facility riot of 2015
In May 2015, approximately 400 inmates at Nebraska's highest-security correctional facility took control of two housing units, the prison yard, and the gym. After the 11-hour siege, two inmates were dead, another two were injured, and two guards were injured as well.
The EF4 tornadoes in and around Pilger in 2014
In mid-June of 2014, multiple tornadoes terrorized rural Nebraska. The worst of this outbreak hit Pilger, leveling much of the town. Two people died, many were injured, more than 300 head of cattle were killed, and staggering property damage resulted.
A Nebraska woman sued every homosexual person on Earth
In May 2015, not long before marriage equality was made law nationwide, Sylvia Driskell of Auburn filed a lawsuit on behalf of God against every homosexual person on the planet. She asked for a judge to rule whether homosexuality is a sin. The case was thrown out two days later, but not before the entire nation turned its eyes curiously toward Nebraska.
The March 2012 tornadoes in North Platte
In March of 2012, four powerful tornadoes, two of which were rated at EF3 intensity, struck the North Platte area. The storms caused many injuries and extensive property damage, including around 15 tanker cars that were overturned at Bailey Yard.
This is by no means an exhaustive list of every time Nebraska has made the national news – these are just a few of the memorable times the entire country has turned a collective eye toward the Cornhusker State. What others can you think of? Let us know in the comments.