In December, we asked TFK readers to choose the most important newsmaker of 2013. More than 11,000 votes were cast, and the results are in! Who is TFK’s Person of the Year? For the fifth year in a row, TFK readers chose the 1.4 million men and women serving in the U.S. Armed Forces. They proudly represent the U.S. while working overseas and they help our nation in times of crisis at home. The U.S. Armed Forces received more than 3,000 votes in TFK’s poll.
To Serve and Protect
Every day, the men and women of the U.S. Armed Forces put their lives on the line to protect our freedoms and keep our country safe. There are currently 47,000 U.S. troops serving in Afghanistan alone. The troops were supposed to return home by 2014. Unfortunately, there is more work to be done. The plan now is for 12,000 soldiers to stay behind and train Afghanistan’s security force, which is not yet capable of defending the country on its own. U.S. troops are now being deployed throughout Africa as well. Their role there will be to teach local forces how to tackle terrorist threats.
Over the past decade, women have fought alongside men overseas, though women were not technically allowed to serve in combat roles. But on January 24, 2013, women earned an expanded role. The Pentagon signed an order opening all ground-combat military positions to women.
Our armed forces are important in times of peace, too. Soon after a powerful tropical storm called a typhoon left thousands dead in the Philippines, U.S. troops arrived with rescue teams. The U.S. military helped distribute food, water, and other supplies to the island nation, where many were left homeless.
Other Notable Nominees
Singer, actress, and songwriter Ariana Grande received the second highest number of votes for TFK Person of the Year. Many people hadn’t heard of the 20-year-old singer last year, but Grande gained attention in 2013. In September, her album received positive reviews from music critics and her song titled “The Way” became a top 10 hit on the Billboard Hot 100 list. In November, she was named New Artist of the Year at the American Music Awards.
For the second year in a row, 16-year-old student Malala Yousafzai also received a high number of votes in the poll. She received 1,474 votes, putting her in third place. Last year, Yousafzai was injured by the Taliban after becoming an influential voice for education and women’s rights in Pakistan. In 2013, Malala became the youngest person ever to be nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize. She also released her memoir, I Am Malala, which tells the story of her life before and after she was attacked.
“A TIME-Honored Tradition”
TFK’s Person of the Year announcement follows an 86-year-old tradition started by TIME magazine. At the end of each year, TIME editors recognize the person, group or (sometimes) idea that has influenced events and had the greatest impact on the world for the preceding 12 months.
TIME chose Pope Francis for its 2013 Person of the Year. He is the first Pope from South America and the first non-European pope in 1,300 years. He has spoken out against income inequality and urged followers to fight against poverty. Pope Francis has stirred excitement among followers and brought new energy to the church. As the leader of the world’s 1.2 billion Catholics, he has been called a man of the people because of his modest lifestyle. The Pope earned 830 votes in TFK’s poll.
Who will become TFK’s Person of the Year in 2014? Teaching kids about the people who are changing our world is something TFK aims to do every week. Together, we will watch world events unfold during the year ahead.