Thursday, March 30, 2006

March 30, 1981: Ronald Reagan shot in Washington

It was twenty-five years ago today that John Hinckley nearly ended the nascent presidency of Ronald Reagan-- but the Gipper pulled through. Three other men were wounded that day, most notably White House Press Secretary Jim Brady, who never fully recovered from a gunshot wound to his head.

From Reagan's autobiography, An American Life:

Monday - March 30

I put on a brand-new blue suit for my speech to the Construction Trades Council. But for some reasons I'll never know, I took off my best wristwatch before leaving the White House and put on an old one Nancy had given me that I usually wore only when I was doing chores outside at the ranch. My speech at the Hilton Hotel was not riotously received - I think most of the audience were Democrats - but at least they gave me polite applause. After the speech, I left the hotel through a side entrance and passed a line of press photographers and TV cameras.

I was almost to the car when I heard what sounded like two or three firecrackers over to my left - just a small fluttering sound, pop, pop, pop. I turned and said, "What the hell's that?" Just then, Jerry Parr, the head of our Secret Service unit, grabbed me by the waist and literally hurled me into the back of the limousine. I landed on my face atop the armrest across the back seat and Jerry jumped on top of me. When he landed, I felt a pain in my upper back that was unbelievable. It was the most excruciating pain I had ever felt. "Jerry," I said, "get off, I think you've broken one of my ribs."

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