One of the facts about 9/11 is that if you’re young enough, it was the singularly shocking event. But if you’re old enough, you might recall Pearl Harbor, various assassinations, Chernobyl or the Challenger disaster. I don’t remember Pearl Harbor, but I do recall two Kennedy assassinations and those of Medgar Evers and of ML King, Jr when I was growing up. It was Evers’ death I first recall.
But the event that actually terrorized me more was the University of Texas at Austin tower shootings by Charles Whitman on August 1, 1966. It terrified me because it was so random; his victims, save for his mother and wife, killed earlier, were people not known to him. It was determined at Whitman’s autopsy that he had a brain tumor, which likely triggered his rampage. This was, as far as I can remember THE precursor to mass school shootings in the United States such as Columbine and Virginia Tech.
What was the first public trauma – as opposed to a personal trauma, such as a death or divorce in the family – that you recall? How, if at all, did it affect you? I know after the Whitman shootings, I was always looking up at tall buildings for several weeks.