11 Notable Endings in 2011

As the year draws to a close, we’re reminded of many significant endings in 2011. Here’s a short list of what got our (and the world’s) attention. What would you add to the list?

U.S. Military Operations in Iraq — After nine years, the Iraq War (also referred to as the Occupation of Iraq, the Second Gulf War, or Operation Iraqi Freedom by the U.S. military) is over. U.S. troops returned home earlier this month, just in time for the holidays. By the numbers: Almost 4,500 U.S. soldiers were killed, more than 32,500 were wounded with thousands more suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder. An estimated 110,000 Iraqi civilians were killed during the war. Here’s a link to a photo gallery from The Washington Post chronicling the war’s toll.

The Harry Potter Series — The last part of the last movie based on the last book in the wildly popular Harry Potter series hit theaters in July. Having inspired a generation of today’s young adults (and more) to read, Harry Potter grew up before our eyes and leaves many fans wondering, what’s next for the cast of wizards who accompanied them into young adulthood?

The Second Edition of the Roman Missal — In case you missed it, we’re saying Mass a little differently these days. That’s because the Third Edition of the Roman Missal (instructions for Mass) was introduced at the end of November. If this is breaking news for you, check out Busted Halo‘s Top Five Mass Changes. The Lord be with you in the New Year. And with your Spirit!

NASA’s Space Shuttle Program — Space: The final frontier. “Final” being the operative word when referring to the Space Shuttle Program. The program ended with the landing of Space Shuttle Atlantis in July — its 135th mission.

Prince William’s Bachelorhood — It was the wedding of the year. Women swooned over Kate Middleton’s dress and some shed a tear over the passing of an era — watching the young royal mark a milestone, remembering his mother, or mourning the loss of a once teenage heartthrob. For some, the expression on this flower girl’s face said it all.

Arab Dictatorships — Revolutionary protests that were part of the Arab Spring brought new leadership to Tunisia and Egypt this year. Protests in Yemen, Bahrain, Syria and Libya also gave voice to people oppressed by their governments. And in October, rebel forces in Libya’s civil war killed Muammar Gadhafi who controlled the country after more than 40 years. Busted Halo’s coverage of the revolution happening in Egypt included “Revolution 2.0,” “An American In Cairo” and an interview with Nanci Martin, an American Catholic living in Cairo.

Joe Paterno’s Football Career — Amid a sex-abuse scandal at Penn State University involving a former assistant coach, Joe Paterno was fired in November after announcing intentions to retire at the end of the year earlier the same week. Many students and fans were upset with the decision to remove a Penn State icon and the coach with the most wins in the history of college football. Riots, protests and death threats to remaining coaches followed the ordeal. Catholics were reminded of the sex abuse and leadership scandal that continues to affect the Church. Archbishop Timothy Dolan said that, “Whenever this painful issue comes into public view again, as it has sadly recently with Penn State, it reopens a wound in the church… We once again hang our heads in shame as we recall with contrition those who have been suffering.”

CANCELLED — Several television shows ended in 2011 including “Friday Night Lights,” “Lie To Me,” “Ace of Cakes,” “Outsourced,” and “Brothers and Sisters.” Earlier this month ABC announced it would cancel the popular remodeling-meets-charity reality TV show “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition.” Long-running soap operas “All My Children” and “One Life To Live” were also cancelled. In other television news: Steve Carell left “The Office,” and Charlie Sheen was fired from “Two and a Half Men.”

R.E.M. — After 31 years, the rock band called it quits. R.E.M. pioneered the genre of alternative rock and recorded 15 albums including singles like “Radio Free Europe,” “Everybody Hurts” and “Losing My Religion.” R.I.P., R.E.M.

Netflix As We Knew It — A pricing gaffe (basically doubling the cost of its services) sent Netflix users over the edge. More than 400,000 subscribers fled and the company’s stock prices plummeted. It seems Netflix has learned its lesson and this might also be the end of corporate goof-ups and greed. LOL. Just kidding.

Bipartisanship — If there were any left in U.S. politics (specifically in the U.S. Congress), it’s long gone now. The spirit of working together and reaching out across the aisle to come to a place of greater understanding and compromise is lost. This may have been most prominently displayed when the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction or “Supercommittee” failed to reach an agreement on reducing the U.S. deficit this fall. In a statement, the committee said: “After months of hard work and intense deliberations, we have come to the conclusion today that it will not be possible to make any bipartisan agreement available to the public before the committee’s deadline.” This is one item on our Endings list that we hope will return in 2012.