Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Reagan Assassination Attempt: 30 years ago today

March 30, 1981.

I was in the third grade, and just happened to be home sick that day. I was sitting on the couch in our home in Oakdale, California watching The Price is Right, when the network cut away to a special news bulletin. It was then I saw the famous footage that we can all instantly recognize today:

How different the world would be today if Hinckley and his bullets had found their mark even worse than they had, especially considering the economic success of the Unites States during the 1980s, and the fall of communism in the Soviet Bloc.

As it is, it turns out that Ronald Reagan came much closer to dying that day then many of us realized for many years. I read somewhere recently that by the time he went into surgery, he had lost something like a third of his blood.

In true Ronald Reagan fashion, he managed to utter a memorable quip. Before his doctors began their surgery to remove the .22 caliber bullet from his lung, Reagan famously said to the medical staff, "I hope you're all Republicans."

Never forget that in addition to Reagan, three other people were shot that day. Press Secretary James Brady has never fully recovered from the injuries he received. His brain was permanently damaged by the bullet that entered the left side of his head. Washington D.C. police officer Thomas Delahunty was shot in the shoulder and neck, and took months to recover from his serious wounds. Secret Service agent Tim McCarthy, who was not wearing a bulletproof vest, courageously turned his body toward the sound of the gunfire to act as a human shield to President Reagan, and took a bullet in the chest. McCarthy has been credited with saving the President's life.

We all remember those significant news events by which we chart our lives. For my parents, it was Kennedy's assassination. For me it was the Challenger tragedy. For many of us, it is now the terrorist attacks of 9/11/01. Before all that, however, my first significant news story that I remember as a child was the attempted assassination of President Ronald Reagan.

"If a nation expects to be ignorant and free... it expects what never was, and never will be." -Thomas Jefferson

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