Remembering a dark day in America: 40 years ago President Reagan was shot dead
It may be hard for some to understand, but President Ronald Reagan has been shot 40 years ago this week. Reagan was walking out of the Washington DC Hilton hotel after giving a speech to the AFL-CIO Building and Construction Union.
As Reagan exited the hotel, headed for his limo, gunshots rang out.
The Secret Service did exactly what they were trained to do if this dreaded moment happened, and placed their bodies between the oncoming bullets and the president’s body.
Yet President Reagan was affected.
– One America News (@OANN) March 30, 2021
Forty years later, it seems a hundred years have passed since that terrible day. We’ve seen six more presidents, a few more wars, and technology that we use every day without even thinking about it and couldn’t even dream of at the time.
We have witnessed the even greater horrors of September 11, 2001.
It may sound cliché, but America was a different place then. There is a lot of statistics to prove that: a gallon of gasoline was $ 1.25, the average cost of a new home was $ 78,200. Of course, the whole world watched Prince Charles and Lady Diana Spencer tie the knot in July.
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We went to the movies and watched “Raiders of the Lost Ark” and “Superman II”. We were listening to music from Blondie and Queen, and your humble political correspondent was 16, a sophomore in high school, watching something new called MTV.
It must have been an unusually warm spring day. My memories of that day came back from school and came through the back door of our house. My mother was sitting at the kitchen table, watching a small black and white television set on a counter directly in front of the table. She barely looked up when I opened the door.
I remember asking what happened, what was going on, and she said the president was shot.
She wasn’t upset to the point of crying, but she was visibly shaken. I could almost guess what she was thinking, or who: John Kennedy.
Being someone who grew up in a politically conservative family, I probably knew more about politics than my friends. I had heard stories from my parents about where they were when JFK was shot.
My mom, recounting how her soap opera was interrupted by a tearful and visibly shaken Walter Cronkite. She tried to call my dad at work and couldn’t get through, all phone lines were blocked.
I immediately sat down with her and watched. Because I knew the stories, I also thought of John Kennedy. I remember wondering if I was also going to have memories of a president who was assassinated during my lifetime. Would I be like my parents and remember where I was years later?
‘Honey, I forgot to duck’: President Ronald Reagan shot 40 years ago today https://t.co/25eHZSGFXs
– Daily caller (@DailyCaller) March 30, 2021
In the days that followed, I remember seeing people on television talking about how, through what must have been a truly scary time for him, Ronald Reagan kept his cool for the sake of his country and his sense of humor. I think they were both equally important.
I remember seeing First Lady Nancy Reagan being brought to the hospital looking extremely worried and shaken, Secret Service agents surrounding her. I remember hearing how Reagan said to his wife, “Honey, I forgot to bend down.”
And in a practical and self-preserving way, he told his doctors, “I hope you are all Republicans.”
I remember thinking in the days that followed, how quickly he recovered. I remember he was released from the hospital, how he got through the front door. As an adult I now know it was to show the rest of the world that he was okay.
Not just him, but America.
I’m sure I continued my teenage life. School, friends, going out, clothes, hair, makeup, boys, you know the priorities of 16-year-old girls. But forty years later, I can look back and knew that that day something was wrong at all.
Forty years ago, a tragedy struck President Reagan, Press Secretary James Brady, Secret Service Agent Tim McCarthy and Police Officer Tom Delahanty were hit by bullets during an assassination attempt on the life of Ronald Reagan. # 40at40 pic.twitter.com/dGPuoX6HoT
– The Reagan Foundation and Institute (@RonaldReagan) March 30, 2021
The other thing I remember now is that all day and all night, looking at the blanket with my parents, I don’t remember the worry and heartache of addicted people that they either Republicans or Democrats.
I don’t know if that would happen today. I’m sure there were people who hated Ronald Reagan as much as they despised Donald Trump.
Maybe it’s because of something simple, like the lack of a 24-hour news cycle or the lack of social media.
But maybe it was something more, something that doesn’t seem to exist anymore. We all think we know, but it’s something that’s hard to put your finger on.
But even as a 16-year-old from the Midwest, I could see that on this horrible day we were all Americans and we just wanted our president to be OK.
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