The 40th President of the United States was nearly felled by an assassin’s bullet forty years ago today.
On March 30, 1981, I was four years old. I was at my grandmother’s house with my mother and two younger brothers. We may have still been living with my grandparents at the time or maybe we were there visiting shortly after we’d moved into our own home. Anyway, my grandmother and mother were in my grandmother’s living room talking while the television droned in the background.
Suddenly, CBS broke away from its regularly scheduled programming for a Special Report. The newscaster announced that someone had shot at Ronald Reagan, the President of the United States.
Sometime later, CBS interrupted regularly scheduled programming to show footage of a beaming Ronald Reagan being roughly shoved into the presidential limo by white men in crisp business suits while a tumult of other white men in business suits dove for cover.
Eventually, everyone realized that Reagan hadn’t just been shot at but actually shot — or, more accurately, hit by a ricocheting bullet. The bullet broke a rib and punctured his lung. Reagan would survive the shooting and fully recover despite losing nearly half his blood. A Secret Service agent, a police officer, and Reagan’s press secretary, James Brady, would be hit with bullets. While the other three men survived the shooting, Brady would suffer permanent brain damage and paralysis. His would-be assassin, John Hinckley, Jr., would successfully plea insanity and be incarcerated at a secure psychiatric hospital until 2016.