On May 1, 2011, a massive crowd of Roman Catholics from all over the globe poured into Vatican City and cheered as then-Pope Benedict XVI personally declared his late predecessor, John Paul II, to be "blessed." Beatification, as that gesture is called, is the step that comes before official sainthood.
John Paul, the first Polish pope, had become a folk hero for his opposition to communism in his native land and for his travels to more countries than any other pontiff.
His ceremony was a memorable one. The crowd was shown a vial of John Paul II's blood, and Vatican officials unveiled a huge tapestry portrait of the late pontiff, before calling in both English and Polish for believers to pray silently. Benedict proclaimed that in heaven, the saints and angels were celebrating, too [source: CNN].
But the event didn't dominate the news that weekend. The following evening, U. S. President Barack Obama announced that Navy SEALs had secretly slipped into Pakistan and killed al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden, the man behind the Sept. 11 attacks [source: Politico].
Author's Note: 10 Monumental Moments That Were Overshadowed by Other Events
This assignment hit home with me, because I've actually seen it happen on a smaller, personal scale. I turned 20 on the day that Elvis Presley died — I was on a birthday road trip at the time, and it took me a while to figure out why every station on the radio seemed to be playing Elvis music. Years later, a journalist friend of mine authored a moving family memoir and sold it to a major publisher. It might even have become a best-seller, except that the release date was just before the Sept. 11 attacks in 2001, which kept it from getting the attention it deserved.
More Great Links
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The 100-year anniversary of the end of World War I offers up a second chance to learn from our mistakes. HowStuffWorks looks at what we need to know.