St. Charles Herald-Guide

Heather R. Breaux BLOG

By Heather R. Breaux - September 20, 2007

On Sept. 15, 1982 the nationís first national newspaper, USA Today, emerged from an incubated idea found mainly in reader surveys and prototype think tanks into a coast-to-coast publication and this week marks the 25th anniversary of the biggest-selling newspaper in the United States.

My love affair with the newspaper became apparent in college when I'd rush out to buy the weekend edition of USA Today faithfully on Friday and sit beneath the oak trees in the student union filling my mind with the most up-to-date news items of the week.

The publication's high-quality color graphics and eye-catching design reminded me more of a magazine than that of a newspaper and every inch of every page was laced with a world of information and culture.

And this week's anniversary edition didn't fail in celebrating the tradition of the newspaper's unique format with a full-color center spread highlighting the most historical and unforgettable events of the past 25 years.

But what interested me more than the front-page snapshots and statistical charts was the act of reading a two-page recap of the events of my lifetime.

I have seniority over USA Today by almost a year. I was born on Nov. 28, 1981 and the newspaper followed 10 months later, and I've never really sat back and reflected on the top headlines of my life until now.

The explosion of the space shuttle Challenger numbed the nation in 1986, but I was only 5 years old and wouldn't learn about the tragedy until years later when my grandparents take me on a tour of NASA's John C. Stennis Space Center in Mississippi.

On Nov. 9, 1989 the Berlin Wall falls ending communism in Germany and parts of the Soviet Union. As a child I can barely grasp the concept, but the tear-stained faces in newspaper pictures tell the story.

The first Gulf War erupts in 1991. The front-page headline reads, "U.S. bombing runs rise to 2,000 a day." As you all know, I do live to see the emergence of the second war with Iraq.

In 1995 the Oklahoma City bombings make the news and in 1996 a blast rocks the Olympic Games in Atlanta - I learn what a terrorist is.

Princess Diana's obituary spawns heartache across the world in 1997 followed by the Columbine High School shootings of Colorado in 1999. That same year, I celebrate the dawn of a new millennium and graduate high school.

The world changes on Sept. 11, 2001 when Washington D.C.'s Pentagon and New York City's high-rise Twin Towers are targeted by foreign attacks.

We all remember where we were that day. Where was I? I was in my Journalism 101 class at Southeastern Louisiana University.

On Aug. 28, 2005, I hurriedly pack up my belongings, family, friends and pets and hit the highway in the opposite of Hurricane Katrina. The next day, the USA Today headline reads, "Crews race to reach survivors."

It's amazing to look back on the events of the world that have impacted my life in some way or another even though many took place far from home.

Along with the publishers, editors, writers and readers of USA Today I reflect on the past, live in the present and I anticipate the future.

After all, tomorrow is only a headline away. Happy Birthday USA Today.

Questions? Comments? Story ideas? Email Lifestyles Editor Heather R. Breaux at heatherb@heraldguide.com.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY. The nationís biggest selling newspaper, USA Today, turns 25 this week and celebrates its milestone with a two-page center spread retracing the biggest headlines of the past 25 years.
Photo by Heather R. Breaux
HAPPY BIRTHDAY. The nationís biggest selling newspaper, USA Today, turns 25 this week and celebrates its milestone with a two-page center spread retracing the biggest headlines of the past 25 years.