7’s Top 7: The Year in National News

WSVN — A historic decision involving Cuba, a new health threat on U.S. soil and shakeups in Washington D.C. 7’s Craig Stevens takes a look back at the national top stories of the year.

History was made in 2014.

Just this month, President Obama announced sweeping plans to reestablish diplomatic relations with Cuba after more than 50 years.

President Obama: “We will end an outdated approach that for decades has failed to advance our interests, and instead, we will begin to normalize relations between our two countries.”

The policy shift ignited outrage among Cuban exiles here in South Florida.

Florida Representative Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R): “The Cuban people are no more free today than they were before Obama’s terrible deal.”

As part of the deal, American Alan Gross, who had been imprisoned in Cuba for five years, was released.

Alan Gross: “What a blessing it is to be a citizen of this country.”

And three convicted Cuban spies jailed in the U.S. were released in exchange for a CIA spy held in Cuba.

In 2014, a new health threat emerged in America.

Dr. Margaret Chan, World Health Organization: “I am declaring the current outbreak of Ebola virus disease a public health emergency of international concern.”

For the first time ever, Ebola reached U.S. soil when two American missionaries serving in West Africa were flown to Atlanta for treatment.

They both received an experimental drug and recovered.

Missionary Kent Brantly: “Today is a miraculous day.”

But in September, a new case of Ebola in Dallas.

Thomas Frieden, Centers for Disease Control: “An individual traveling from Liberia has been diagnosed with Ebola in the United States.”

That diagnosis set off a frantic search for anyone who may have had contact with Thomas Duncan.

Weeks later, Duncan became the first Ebola patient to die in the U.S.

Automated phone call: “Please be advised that a healthcare worker that lives in your area has tested positive for the Ebola virus.”

Two of the nurses who treated him also contracted the disease. Both survived.

In April, history repeated itself at Fort Hood Military Base in Texas.

For the second time in five years, a soldier went on a mass shooting spree, killing three people and injuring 16 others before taking his own life.

The care of our veterans came under fire this year.

Veteran: “I was in a wheelchair six months. I couldn’t walk.”

Reports surfaced of treatment delays and falsified records at facilities nationwide.

President Obama: “If there is misconduct, it will be punished.”

Facing a firestorm of criticism, the head of Veterans Affairs resigned.

Violence in our schools again this year.

911 Caller: “I’ve got multiple victims. We need ambulances here as soon as possible.”

Police said a sophomore used a pair of kitchen knives to stab and slash his way through a high school near Pittsburgh. Twenty students and a security guard were hurt.

Just six months later, near Seattle, four teenagers died after being shot by a fellow student. Investigators say a 15-year-old sent a text message inviting his cousins and friends to lunch at the school cafeteria.

Witness: “He came up from behind and had a gun in his hand and fired about six bullets into the backs of them.”

He then shot and killed himself.

Resignations and security scares in our nation’s capital.

In September, an Iraq war veteran hopped a fence and made it inside the White House.

Even though the first family was not home, the breach triggered investigations of the Secret Service and led to the resignation of the agency’s director.

Attorney General Eric Holder announced his resignation after leading the justice department for six years.

Then, in November, Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel stepped down amid mounting criticism of President Obama’s foreign policy.

It was the first cabinet-level resignation after bruising midterm elections where Republicans took control of the Senate.

President Obama: “Obviously, Republicans had a good night.”

Wednesday, we conclude 7’s Top 7 with the top story of 2014. Tune in to find out. In the plex, Craig Stevens, 7News.