“People even today I don’t think realize what a close call it was.” – James A. Baker III, Reagan White House Chief Of Staff, in Ronald Reagan: Rendezvous With Destiny
Today marks the 30th anniversary of the assassination attempt on President Ronald Reagan. For most, March 30, 2011, will come and go like any other early spring day, but for others, this date may conjure up the question: How would the world be different if President Reagan had died just 70 days into his presidency?
President Reagan’s diary shows us what a difference a day can make in the fragile lives we all live. On Sunday, March 29, 1981, the signature Reagan optimism was in full swing: “Church at St. Johns – a beautiful Spring Day and at the service the Navy Choir from Annapolis. They looked & sounded so right you have to feel good about our country.”
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The next day began in a typical way – a speech at a local Washington, D.C. hotel to promote his economic recovery package – but after the speech, the sound of six gunshots filled the air as deranged gunman John Hinckley, Jr. sought to change the course of history and cut Ronald Reagan’s presidency short. The 40th president was quickly pushed into his limousine, which was ordered to return to the White House. At that time, nobody – including the president – believed he had been shot, but thought he had a broken rib from being pushed into the limousine so abruptly by the Secret Service, who had jumped on top of him as human shields.
Read the full op-ed here