The Supreme Court Building in Washington D.C.
Ed Clark—The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images
By TIME Staff
Updated: June 30, 2016 9:39 AM ET | Originally published: June 28, 2016

Correction appended, July 8, 2016

Each year, as the United States of America prepares to celebrate its Independence Day, the urge to reexamine American history is inevitable. After all, it’s hard to escape what happened on July 4, 1776, when you’re marking a holiday known as the Fourth of July.

But revisiting American history doesn’t have to mean sticking with those red-letter dates. Last year, at around this time, we asked 25 historians to nominate 25 moments that changed the nation, and the list they generated was eye-opening. (You can read the whole thing here.) Animated by the breadth and insight of that round-up, as well as the knowledge that it was only the tip of the iceberg, we’ve asked 25 new experts to chime in with their own nominations.

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The only rules: the selections had to be “moments” (a broad social movement doesn’t count) and they had to have happened during the span of the 20th century, inspired by TIME founder Henry Luce having declared those years “the American century.” The results were, unsurprisingly, another fitting reminder of just how much can happen in 100 years—and of the way that a single day can change all that comes after. From laws that were passed with unintended consequences to scientific advancements that still affect our everyday lives to a celebrity debut that made a difference, each moment in its own way is an example of how history’s hinges work.

Reasons for nominations as told to Lily Rothman

Contact us at editors@time.com.

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