Wednesday, March 30, 2011

30 Years Since...

On March 30, 1981, 30 years ago, John W. Hinckley attempted to assassinate Ronald Reagan, firing a barrage of bullets outside of the Washington Hilton after a speech to members of the AFL-CIO, where he was beginning to build support among "Reagan Democrats." With strong, swift decision-making made by the Secret Service, including Jerry Parr, the Secret Service Agent who pushed the president into the limo, President Reagan was able to be promptly treated for his injuries at George Washington University Hospital; that treatment saving his life. While the President was lucky to get away with his life, Reagan's Press Secretary, James Brady, was severely injured, as he was shot in the head by Hinckley, and today, is severely disabled.

The events of March 30, 1981, had wide-ranging ramifications, between changes in the way the Secret Service goes about protecting the President, insanity in court cases, (Hinckley still continues to live in a mental institution, has never served time for his crime, and some believe this psychotic madman should be set free) and a re-defined purpose of service by President Reagan during his time in office, as he believed Divine intervention saved his life. Even in the face of death, Americans saw the President's humor, as well as his sunny, optimistic outlook in times of upheaval, and his popularity surged.

Thirty years later, Del Quentin Wilber wrote a comprehensive re-telling of the events of that day titled Rawhide Down. It is definitely a recommended read, brings a lot of new information into the fold, shows how close President Reagan came to dying on that fateful day and leads the reader to draw the connections on how the events of March 30, 1981, launched Ronald Reagan to be inspired to lead in the fashion he did during those eight years in the White House.

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