The year 2015 has been one filled with controversy, triumph and change. It was a time that encompassed shocking actions, consequences due to political decisions and some of the most unexpected surprises that left us with our mouths open. The world is changing and seems to have become so extreme in all facets.
The following images help capture the world we are living in presently. These photos draw an array of mixed emotions with every pixel. They can cause deep empathy making you want to jump right in the picture and help. They can make you feel proud and joyful at the accomplishments being made. They can also spark rage and anger at the injustices happening.
Photos do have the ability to tell a story without saying one word. Like they say, pictures say a thousand words. They allow us to have an experience even if we're not actually there. With social media platforms such as Instagram, not only are we able to see what is going on across the world through images but we're also able to express ourselves through them.
The following photos depict 2015 in all its glory and downfalls. Photos last forever and future generations will get to see what was going on because of what was captured by many, all over the world. Open your eyes and check out the most powerful images of 2015 below.
10 Mick Fanning Shark Attack
Mick Fanning is a professional surfer who was competing in the J-Bay Open competition in South Africa when he came face to face with a great white shark. This Australian native fought for his life on live television for half a minute with the shark. All professionalism went out the window as the anchors swore and were in complete shock with the audience not knowing if he was okay. The crowd erupted in screams and rescuers rushed to the scene.
Amazingly enough, Fanning escaped without a scratch thanks to the quick actions of the rescue team. The shark bit off the surfboard's leash and thrashed around. Many believe that the shark's actions were exploratory and that it got caught in the leash causing it to bite it off. Fanning didn't freeze up in fear and his survival instincts kicked in as he continually punched the shark in the back to remain safe. "I had this instinct that something was behind me, all of a sudden I started getting pulled under water," Fanning states. Thankfully, there were no injuries but that was one scary, close call!
9 Cecil the Lion
Dr. Walter Palmer faced a lot of heat from the world after news broke that he paid an apparent $50,000 to hunt and kill Cecil the lion. Cecil was a huge attraction at a national park in Zimbabwe. The 13-year-old lion was lured out of the park, shot with an arrow by Palmer and was killed 40 hours later with a rifle. He was skinned and his head was cut off barbarically. The lion was being studied and tracked by The University of Oxford and his tracking collar was missing when the body was discovered. Palmer claims that he relied on the help of professional guides to ensure a legal hunt.
Palmer did have a permit and was not charged for the killing. There was public outrage over this incident and his dental office was vandalized. This incident sparked reactions all over the world, including over 40 airlines banned the transport of hunting trophies. Two species of lions were added to the endangered species list making it more difficult to kill protected lions. France even banned the import of lion trophies and Britain is to do the same in 2017.
8 Murders of Alison Parker and Adam Ward
As viewers were tuning in with their morning cup of coffee, this news story took a turn. On live television, a murder was broadcasted leaving the world stunned and in horror. Former staff reporter Vester Lee Flanagan filmed himself shooting reporter, Alison Parker, and her cameraman, Adam Ward, at 6:45 am on August 26, 2015. Vester then fled the scene and posted tweets and videos about the attack. He faxed a 23-page note to the news channel explaining his motives for the attack. Readers were shocked at his words saying, "my hollow point bullets have the victims initials on them."
Vester was inspired by other mass shooters throughout the year as he proclaimed adoration for their actions. Vester thought Parker was a racist and had a long history of complaints against coworkers throughout his job history. The murders were aired for all to see and the general manager eventually came on air to announce the deaths of the two employees.
7 Legalization of Same-Sex Marriage
On June 26, 2015, the Supreme court ruled in favor of legalizing same-sex marriage in all 50 states. This was a memorable day for the US, finally giving its citizens equal rights after massive injustice throughout the years. President Barack Obama stated, "The ruling is a victory for gay and lesbian couples who fought so long for their basic civil rights. Shifts in hearts and minds are possible." The term love wins exploded on the internet and throughout the country. Unfortunately, this change was not well received by all. Texas governor, Greg Abbott, stated, "marriage is only the union of one man and one woman."
Despite the ruling, Texas' right to religious liberty remains protected and citizens are not required to act contrary to his/her religious beliefs regarding marriage. Kentucky county clerk, Kim Davis, received a lot of backlash because she refused to issue marriage licenses after the law passed. She claims she was acting under God's authority. She ended up being jailed and released and lawyers in the case argued that she was using religious liberty to discriminate. This year was a huge year for homosexuals and celebrated by many despite continued discrimination by some.
6 Transasia Plane Crash
Domestic flight 235 crashed into Keelung river on February 4, 2015. As the plane was going down, it managed to hit a highway and taxi cab at full speed. The plane was a 10-month-old ATR 72-600 aircraft flying from Taipei to Kinmen in Taiwan. It was transporting 53 passengers including 5 crew members. Only 15 survived. Right after take off, the pilots reported an engine failure and yelled "mayday." The plane was able to climb to 1500 feet before descending. After the reported flame-out, the other engine accidentally was shut down. As the plane was going down, it flew across a highway hitting a taxi, injuring two people inside. The plane was on a 90 degree angle and one wing was torn off as it hit the concrete. Eventually the plane broke in two as it crashed into the river.
Fortunately, there were survivors in this devastating accident. People sitting in the back survived. The rescue crew ended up having to cut the seatbelts of the dead passengers underwater. Transasia offered $475,000 in compensation to the family members of the deceased, but not all accepted the offer. This is one flight we will never forget.
5 Letterman Sign Removed
Broadway and 53rd street will never look the same, as the famous marquee has been removed. The front of the Ed Sullivan Theatre laid the famous Letterman sign for 22 years. A demolition crew took the massive sign down in parts with ladders and a crane. May 20th marked David Letterman's last episode featuring major A-list celebrities like Jerry Seinfeld, Steve Martin and Bill Murray. Within the studio, chairs, posters and desks were removed as well. Most of the items were put in the dumpster, but Letterman's desk is rumored to have been shipped to The Smithsonian.
Fans grew emotional as the sign was being removed, solidifying that the show was finally over. Fans grew up watching Letterman for years and it was the end of an era in late night comedy.
4 Confederate Flag Taken Down
Major change occurred in South Carolina, USA after nine black people were shot and killed at a church in Charleston. There was public outrage over the incident and absolutely no tolerance for racism in the state. The shooter had posted pictures of posing with the famous flag. The confederate flag hung in front of the state house and has been the star of major public debate. The flag was put up in the 1960s and people have since pushed for its removal. There is a debate over whether it is a symbol of cultural heritage and history or a symbol of racism. Governor Hayley signed a legislation marking the removal. The bill was introduced and required 2/3 of votes in both chambers and was settled after 13 hours of debate. During the removal ceremony, there were mixed reactions represented by the people. Some carried the flag and showed support of the flag, but overall it was a peaceful ceremony.
3 Caitlyn Jenner
This former Olympian transformed into a transgender icon in 2015. Caitlyn Jenner's lifelong struggle with coming to terms of being a woman finally ended as she accepted herself and made the transition publicly. In January 2014, Jenner was spotted recovering from a tracheal shave, a common procedure done with transgender people. The world started to speculate that something was up. Jenner finally underwent facial feminization surgery and breast augmentation. Contrary to popular belief, many transgender people do not undergo genital surgery, as Jenner has not. Her whole life she has cross dressed and felt worried about coming to terms with reality and her family.
She shocked the world as she posed gracefully on the cover of Vanity Fair. Famous photographer, Annie Leibovitz, captured this beauty and even proclaimed she felt she was witnessing the birth of this woman. Caitlyn Jenner was born and Bruce Jenner was gone. Thankfully, her family and the world accepted Caitlyn and she even went on to win awards and positive recognition.
Comedian Simon Brodkin took it upon himself to play a prank on FIFA president Sepp Blatter. He threw $600 of American cash at the president during a press conference. He was able to bypass security wearing a media pass. The incident occurred in Zurich and finished with serious consequence. Brodkin was charged with trespassing and faced jail time. The comedian claimed the cash was to secure the world cup being held in North Korea in year 2026. Brodkin wanted to draw awareness to the corruption within the FIFA corporation.
The FBI is currently investigating the corporation for it' corruption. "I can say that it would be the greatest irony of all if I was the first person to go to prison over events in FIFA headquarters," Brodkin said. The comedian has a long-standing history of conducting public pranks. He recently pranked Kanye West during a concert while he appeared on stage unannounced. Brodkin claimed it was due to revenge for Taylor Swift.
1 Alan Kurdi
This infamous photo shocked the world as we viewed a dead three-year-old refugee named Alan Kurdi. Alan Kurdi drowned in the Mediterranean Sea after trying to reach Canada with his family. This photo drew concern for the refugee crisis in the Canadian federal election. The family was trying to reach Vancouver to join Aunt Tima who filed for refugee sponsorship. The application was denied because the family was denied an exit visa by Turkish authorities. The family tried to escape by taking an inflatable rubber boat across the sea carrying 16 people when it was built for eight. The family paid an apparent $5,860 to secure the spots on the boat heading to the Greek island of Kos. The boat was driving too fast and lost control causing an engine failure. The passengers capsized and the captain abandoned the ship. Alan drowned and was discovered on shore. This picture is a reminder to the world of our responsibilities to refugees around the world.