Remembering a darkish day in America: 40 years in the past, President Reagan was shot

For some it may be difficult to fathom, but President Ronald Reagan was shot 40 years ago this week. Reagan emerged from the Hilton Hotel in Washington DC after giving a speech to the AFL-CIO Building and Construction Union.

When Reagan stepped out of the hotel and went to his limousine, gunshots rang out.

The Secret Service did exactly what they were trained to do if that dreaded moment ever happened, placing their bodies between oncoming bullets and the President’s body.

Still, President Reagan was hit.

March 30, 1981: Assassination attempt on President Reagan – #OANN

– 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 technologies we use every day without thinking about it that we couldn’t even dream of then.

We witnessed the even greater horrors of September 11, 2001.

It may sound cliché, but America was a different place back then. There are plenty of statistics to prove that: A gallon of gasoline was $ 1.25, the average cost of a new house was $ 78,200. Of course, the whole world watched as Prince Charles and Lady Diana Spencer got married in July.

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We went to the movies and watched Raiders of the Lost Ark and Superman II. We heard music from Blondie and Queen, and your humble political insider correspondent was 16, a sophomore, and was watching something brand new called MTV.

It must have been an unusually warm spring day. My memories of that day came home from school and came through the back door of our house. My mother was sitting at the kitchen table and watching a small black and white television set on a counter directly across from 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 had been shot.

She wasn’t upset to the point of tears, but she was visibly shaken. I could almost guess what she was thinking of or who: John Kennedy.

As someone who grew up in a politically conservative family, I probably knew more about politics than my friends. I had heard my parents’ stories about where they were when JFK was shot.

My mother talked about how her soap opera was interrupted by a tearful and visibly shaken Walter Cronkite. She tried to call my father at work and couldn’t get through, all the phone lines were clogged.

I immediately sat down with her and watched. Knowing the stories, I also thought of John Kennedy. I remember wondering if I would also have memories of a president who was murdered in my life. Would I be like my parents and remember where I was years later?

“Honey, I forgot the duck”: President Ronald Reagan shot dead 40 years ago today

– Daily caller (@DailyCaller) March 30, 2021

In the days that followed, I remember people talking on television about how Ronald Reagan kept his composure for his country and his sense of humor at a really scary time. I think they were both equally important.

I remember seeing First Lady Nancy Reagan being rushed to the hospital. She looked extremely worried and shaken. Intelligence agents surrounded them. I remember Reagan saying to his wife, “Honey, I forgot to duck.”

And in a practical, self-sustaining way, he said to his doctors, “I hope you’re all Republicans.”

I remember thinking about how quickly he recovered in the days that followed. I remember how he was discharged from the hospital and how he walked right out the front door. As an adult, I now know that this should show the rest of the world that he was fine.

Not just him, but America.

I am sure I went on with 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 know that something was terribly wrong that day.

Forty years ago today, a tragedy occurred when President Reagan, Press Secretary James Brady, Intelligence Agent Tim McCarthy and Police Officer Tom Delahanty were hit by bullets in an assassination attempt on Ronald Reagan’s life. # 40at40

– The Reagan Foundation and Institute (@RonaldReagan) March 30, 2021

The other thing I remember now is that, day and night, when I watch the coverage with my parents, I don’t remember the worries and grief of people who depend on whether they are Republicans or Democrats.

I don’t know that would happen today. I’m sure there were people who hated Ronald Reagan as much as Donald Trump did.

Maybe it’s because of something simple, like the lack of a 24-hour news cycle or no social media.

But maybe it was something more, something that no longer seems to exist. We all think we know, but it’s one thing that is difficult to put a finger on.

But even as a 16-year-old Midwestern teenager, I could see that we were all Americans on that terrible day and we just wanted our president to be safe.

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