Heritage, 2009, Volume 3 Page: 13
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Taylor-Murphy Hall, the history building on the campus of Texas State
University. Photograph by Cynthia J. Beeman.
with the Virginia Tech shooting [of 2007] than 9/11." The
campus shooting, understandably, brought the matter of
vulnerability even closer to home for her.
As a psychologist, Dr. Randall Osborne played a key role for
both the student body and the local media in trying to make at
least some sense of the day's irrational events. It was a daunting
task. Anticipating widespread confusion and dismay among
his students, he opened his introductory psychology class on
9/11 by giving them the option of continuing with the lesson
as planned or talking about "what happened." The class chose
the latter and seemed eager to talk, in marked contrast to the
student reaction Dr. Studer experienced. The need for some to
talk through the situation, Dr. Osborne theorized, resulted be-
cause "they were away from home. They could call their folks
on the phone," he added, "but they couldn't be with people,
you know, family members, and things like that." And, he fur-
ther elaborated, "They also wanted to talk about it because
they were still processing it, and the images of those planes
hitting those towers were playing through their heads over and
over and over like it probably was for most of us."
Dr. Osborne recalled how one student in particular wrestled
with her own emotions on that important day. "What bothers
you so much about that video footage?" he asked. She replied,
"I don't understand why they hate us." Then, working through
her emotions, she quickly added, "I don't understand why they
hate me. Because I'm an American citizen, I'm now vulner-
able, and they may kill me because I'm an American citizen."
Osborne observed, "For a lot of our students that's the first
time in their lives that they've ever been a target of hate."
In the oral history interview with Team Turbo members,
Osborne shared other professional insights regarding social
reactions to national tragedies and what he termed the associ-
ated "flash bulb memory." Those who experienced firsthand
the breaking news and immediate imagery of 9/11 will carry
those elements of memory forward, sharing them with others
who will in turn have their own experiences based on their
degree of separation from the event and the storyteller. "One
thing that we can do in academia," he noted, "is we can make
sure the people don't forget."
To that end, Team Turbo made its own lasting contribu-
tions to the historical record. As student Hans Schreck, a
Pflugerville resident and a native of New Mexico, wrote af-
ter the project, the value of oral history is in "the personal
connection," adding that "as time goes by, days like 9/11 be-
come more abstract and distant, both in time and memory."
To Schreck, Loden, and the other students, their work helped
them-and possibly others-make those important connec-
tions. And within those connections, perhaps, will be found
the seeds of social understanding and personal growth. As Dr.
Osborne told the student interviewers, "You can use the same
strong ideology to promote hate and justify your hate as you
can to promote goodness and justify that."
Stephanie Loden and Hans Schreck are graduate students in the
Public History Program of the Department of History at Texas
State University, San Marcos. Historian Dan K Utley, recently
retired from the Texas Historical Commission, is an adjunct fac-
ulty member of TSU's History Department.
HERITAGE Volume 3 2009
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Texas Historical Foundation. Heritage, 2009, Volume 3, periodical, 2009; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth254214/m1/13/: accessed March 18, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas Historical Foundation.