Orbital View: Cookie Cutter Killeen

Editor’s Note: This article previously appeared in a different format as part of The Atlantic’s Notes section, retired in 2021.

It’s hard not to have Malvina Reynolds’s famous ditty in my head after seeing this suburban view:

I actually spent four years in Killeen as a kid, when my parents were stationed at neighboring Fort Hood, the biggest military installation in the world (about 53,000 residents in 2010 and as high as 95,000 in the 1940s). When I went in college, my mother returned to Hood as the assistant chief nurse of its hospital, so my driver’s license for most of my 20s had a Killeen address. Bartenders, after checking my ID, would sometimes ask me about this notorious chapter in Killeen history:

The Luby’s shooting was a mass shooting that took place on October 16, 1991, at a restaurant in Killeen, Texas. The perpetrator, George Hennard, crashed his pickup truck through the front of a Luby’s Cafeteria, and immediately shot and killed 23 people, and wounded 27 others before shooting and killing himself. It is the third-deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history, behind only the Virginia Tech and the Sandy Hook Elementary School shootings. It remains the deadliest mass shooting in the U.S. that did not occur at a school.

My dad and I used to eat at Luby’s often, but fortunately we moved to Kansas a few years before the massacre. And then there was the Hasan shooting of 2009 that left 13 people dead and more than 30 injured on Fort Hood. Other than that, a great place to grow up!

(See all Orbital Views here)