Heritage, 2009, Volume 3 Page: 12
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Snapshot memories (aka benchmark days or flash-
bulb memories) are generally associated with events
so profound and dramatic that they serve as memo-
ry landmarks. For oral history projects dealing with
groups of people who shared common emotions or
experienced the same event, they can serve as im-
portant focal points for understanding diverse per-
sonal perspectives of a broader story. Below is a par-
tial list of well-known snapshot memories in modern
times. No doubt, others might be included in each
person's own oral history work.
Truman defeats Dewey, 1948;
Nixon resigns presidency, 1974
The Shot Heard "Round the World" (baseball), 1951;
Miracle on Ice (hockey), 1980
U.S. astronauts walk on the moon, 1969
John F. Kennedy, 1963; Robert F. Kennedy, 1968;
Martin Luther King, Jr., 1968
Marilyn Monroe, 1962; Elvis Presley, 1977;
Michael Jackson, 2009
Hindenburg Disaster, 1937;
Challenger Explosion, 1986
Attack on Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, 1941; D-Day, 1944;
Fall of Saigon, 1975
Waco, 1953; Lubbock, 1970; Wichita Falls, 1979
Carla, 1961; Beulah, 1967; Rita, 2005
New London School Explosion, 1937;
Texas City Disaster, 1947
The bobcat is the masco'f fTexas Stlate University, San Marcos.
Photo by Cynthia J. Beeman.
Despite his illness, Studer knew he needed to get to cam-
pus, and so he arrived there in the afternoon. He talked
with his staff and quickly learned that the counseling center
was in full operation and available to students who might
need to talk about the situation or their fears. At the time,
it was not clear if any students had connections with those
killed in the planes, the World Trade Center, or the Penta-
gon. Studer also learned of preliminary plans for a campus
In his evening graduate class, Studer took time to let
students talk about the day's events. What surprised and
confused him was the general lack of response, and at the
time he was unsure if the silence reflected apathy or fear.
Over time, though, he came to realize that silence is a natu-
ral response to tragic events that generate great uncertainty.
Some people are overwhelmed by the moment and, per-
haps as a defensive measure, choose not to talk about it
or to concentrate on other matters. At a 9/11 memorial
service a year later, Studer recalled the same sense of silence
as students gathered "for the memory, and to hear, and to
come together as a community."
During the crisis, Dr. Joanne Smith worked closely with
students and administrators to ensure stability on the cam-
pus, but at the same time she experienced her own fears,
doubts, and uncertainty. "The boldness of [the terror-
ists'] calculation," she said, coupled with a realization
the nation was caught off guard, made her feel "more
vulnerable." But, recalling the events in hindsight over
the ensuing years, she also noted, "I was more in shock
By Dan K. Utley
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Texas Historical Foundation. Heritage, 2009, Volume 3, periodical, 2009; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth254214/m1/12/: accessed April 25, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas Historical Foundation.