16 Moments That Gave Us Hope in 2016

This year hasn’t been completely terrible.

Every year has its ups and downs. Every year has those moments that we rewatch in hopes that we can make them never end and every year has those moments that we wish would just end already. While 2016 may seem like a year that has left us with more desire to see it finally over than to reminisce over the past 12 months, it hasn't all been bad.

This year marked the end of the ebola outbreak in western Africa and the eradication of measles in the Americas. A report released by the World Economic Forum in October found that women's access to education is at an all-time high. Giant pandas, Amur tigers and the Iberian lynx were all taken off the endangered species list. After 108 years, the Chicago Cubs won the World Series. And then there was Lemonade.

Still prefer 2016 would end sooner rather than later? Check out our list below of the 16 most inspiring moments of the year, and maybe you'll be convinced that some parts of this year are worth remembering.


1. An Iraqi soldier had a teary, surprise reunion with his mom.

A civilian evacuation in Mosul resulted in some heart-wrenching footage when an Iraqi soldier who hadn't seen his family in two years discovered his mom in a busload of people being taken to nearby U.N. camps. "Don't cry my son. You shouldn't cry," the mother says in the video of the two of them embracing. While the operation to retake the Iraqi city from ISIS is ongoing, moments like these reminded us what is worth fighting for.

2. Hundreds of plumbers spent their weekend installing water filters and faucets in Flint homes for free.

When a plumber's union got tired of waiting for the government of Flint, Michigan to outfit residents with new faucets and water filters, 300 members decided to take measures into their own hands. In a generous gesture, the plumbers worked for free over the weekend in homes in the town that had been beleaguered by contaminated water for months already.

3. Michelle Obama’s speech at the Democratic National Convention.

FLOTUS's speech at the convention in Philadelphia about her vision of the world she hopes her daughters continue to grow up in had all of us in tears. The motto she featured in her remarks, "When they go low, we go high," is something that we all appreciated regardless of our political affiliation.

4. Hundreds lined up to donate blood following the Orlando shooting.

After an attack on a popular gay nightclub in Orlando left 50 dead and 53 wounded, hundreds waited, some more than four hours, to donate blood in the city. The gesture was especially meaningful for the LGBT community as FDA regulations do not allow for men who have had sex with men in the past year to give blood.

5. Obama used the f-word for the first time.

President Barack Obama attended the first-ever Unite State of Women in June of this year. Organized by the White House, the conference addressed issues such as economic empowerment, education and violence against women. In his remarks at the event, President Obama referred to himself as a "feminist" for the first time.

6. Brits demonstrated their support for immigrants with a clever accessory.

After the United Kingdom voted to leave the European Union, immigrant communities around the country found themselves on the receiving end of an increasing number of messages urging to get out of the U.K. A social media movement called for Brits to wear a safety pin on their clothes as a message that immigrants were still welcomed by some individuals. 

7. Social media tracked down a long-lost photo for the girlfriend of an Oakland fire victim.

In what could be called an Internet miracle, Saya Tomioka's post pleading for help in locating a photo of her and her boyfriend was shared over 300 times and made its way onto the wall of the New York-based photographer. Tomioka had seen the image only once over a year ago when the photographer, then a stranger, snapped the image of her and her boyfriend Griffin Maddens in Times Square.

8. The Refugee Olympic team allowed stateless athletes to compete in the Summer Games.

For the first time ever, an Olympic team of athletes who had been previously forced to flee their homelands for various reasons was organized. Without an identifying country, these athletes would have normally be unable to participate in the Olympics, but their team showed that home is really where the heart is.

9. Brie Larson hugged every sexual assault survivor after Lady Gaga's Oscars performance.

While she did win the Academy Award for Best Actress, Brie Larson's most memorable moment at the Oscars this year was when the actress hugged every survivor of sexual assault that had been part of Lady Gaga's performance of "Til It Happens To You." During the performance, the group stood behind Lady Gaga with messages of hope and empowerment written on their arms. Larson's small act of kindness illustrated how everyone in the room was feeling.

10. The friendship between a 12-year-old girl and a powerlifter.

Former marine David Douglas and 12-year-old Lindsay Ratcliffe met at a powerlifting event to benefit children with rare diseases. Ratcliffe, who was diagnosed with progeria, immediately became like Douglas's little sister. Since meeting, the two have seen each other numerous times, including when Douglas flew across the country to surprise Ratcliffe at a charity walk. Their relationship showed that friendship knows no barriers.

11. Ellen DeGeneres received the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

Despite her years advocating for LGBT rights, Ellen DeGeneres seems to reject the idea that she has been an influential figure in the community's fight to be recognized. However, others have recognized her efforts, and DeGeneres was honored this year with the Presidential Medal of Freedom. Watching her try to hold back tears at the ceremony was one of the sweetest moments of this year.

12. The ‘Turn Ignorance Around’ campaign fought Latino stereotypes.

After then-candidate Donald Trump accused Mexicans of bringing drugs and crime into the U.S. and referred to them as "rapists," the Latino community created a campaign to reveal their true selves. This moment was one of many instances this year of communities coming together when confronted with a new reality of racism and xenophobia. 

13. Lionel Messi sent a signed jersey to his biggest fan.

A 5-year-old boy captured hearts across the Internet when a photo of him wearing a Lionel Messi jersey that his older brother had made out of a plastic bag with a similar pattern to the soccer superstar Argentina jersey went viral. The boy's family cannot afford the real thing, but the Internet soon made it their quest to get him one. It worked, and in the ultimate show of sportsmanship, Messi sent the boy a real, signed jersey. 

14. Standing Rock Protesters successfully halted the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline.

Demonstrators were heard in the eleventh hour when the Army Corps of Engineers announced it would not issue the permit needed to continue the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline. Protesters had gathered for months to stand in solidarity with the Standing Rock Sioux tribe in North Dakota. Their efforts reminded us that the power still remains in the hands of the people

15. Teenage activist put a face to North Carolina's bathroom law.

Corey Maison, 14, received her first estrogen prescription last year. To commemorate Maison's transition, her mom booked a photo session that ended up making an important statement about what it means to feel safe.

16. ‘Aleppo’s Anne Frank’ among those who escaped the city.

For months, 7-year-old Bana Alabed's Twitter account broadcasted updates from the war-torn city in Syria to the world. In the weeks leading up to her family's exit from Aleppo, Alabed's Twitter contained messages of uncertainty about the future and even one in which she said goodbye. Her story reminded us that courage can come in small packages. 

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Cover image via My Good Images/ Shutterstock.com.


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