Posted by Aye on 30 March, 2009 at 7:15 am. 2 comments already!


Today we roll out a new feature here on Flopping Aces called “On This Day”.

These posts will be created to chronicle important historic events that occurred on a particular date on the calendar.

So, with the introduction and general idea having been established, here’s your first “On This Day” post:

Twenty-eight years ago today, March 30, 1981, President Ronald Reagan became the first President of the United States to survive being shot while in office.

Image Source

Reagan, who was 70 years old at the time, had only been in office for 69 days. The shootings occurred at the Washington Hilton after President Reagan delivered an address to a union group.

Also injured in the attack were White House Press Secretary James Brady, Secret Service Agent Timothy McCarthy, and DC Metro Police Officer Thomas Delahanty.

In the immediate moments following the attack, it appeared that President Reagan had escaped injury. Unfortunately, one of the bullets ricocheted off of the armored limousine and struck him in the ribcage.

The President was rushed to George Washington University Hospital for treatment.

Only later, through medical reports and updates, did we learn that President Reagan was gravely wounded that day and came very close to dying.

Throughout his ordeal President Reagan kept his good humor and endeared himself to Americans across the political spectrum.

The grace and humor Reagan showed after the attempt to assassinate him in 1981 had, more than any other single event, added a mythical quality to his leadership, revealing his character in a way that made it almost impossible to dislike him.

Garry Wills, Reagan’s America: Innocents at Home

In his memoir, An American Life, Reagan remembers:

We pulled up in front of the hospital emergency entrance and I was first out of the limo and into the emergency room. A nurse was coming to meet me and I told her I was having trouble breathing. Then all of a sudden my knees turned rubbery. The next thing I knew I was lying face up on a gurney…

An hour went by between the time that Reagan arrived at the hospital and was then taken into surgery. That was plenty of time for the President to display his characteristic wit.

The first words he uttered upon regaining consciousness were to a nurse who happened to be holding the president’s hand. “Does Nancy know about us?”.

When Nancy herself arrived a few minutes later, Reagan greeted her with the comment, “Honey, I forgot to duck.” (He was quoting prizefighter Jack Dempsey, who had said the same thing to his own wife after losing the heavyweight championship to rival Gene Tunney in 1926.)

Reagan even found occasion to pay homage to W.C. Fields. When a nurse asked him how he was feeling, he responded, “All in all, I’d rather be in Philadelphia.” (The original line, which Fields had proposed for his own epitaph, was: “On the whole, I would rather be in Philadelphia.”)

And, according to Edwin Meese, Reagan’s Attorney General, the President stumped him and other members of the White House staff with the greeting, “Who’s minding the store?”

3:24 p.m. Reagan was wheeled into the operating room. He had lost about 2,100 cc of blood, but his bleeding had slowed and he had received 4 1/2 replacement units. As he was moved from the stretcher to the operating table, he looked around and said, “Please tell me you’re all Republicans.” Giordano, a liberal Democrat, said, “We’re all Republicans today.”

President Reagan went on to make a full recovery from his injuries and millions of people around the world live better lives today because of the skill of the medical team on duty that day.

0 0 votes
Article Rating
Would love your thoughts, please comment.x