Thirty Years Ago Today
Thirty years ago today John Hinckley tried to kill President Reagan. Three decades ago I was a college freshman, walking toward the college bookstore when someone ran by and told us the news. I remember listening to WBBM radio much of the afternoon and early evening. As Peggy Noonan wrote later, it's a bad sign when the news people don't know any more than you do. Only later did the details emerge--how close the bullet was to Reagan's heart, how the decision of one Secret Service officer to go directly to the hospital rather than back to the White House first saved the President's life, and how Reagan insisting on walking inside under his own power before collapsing just inside the hospital doors. It was, as the Duke of Wellington said after the Battle of Waterloo "the nearest run thing you ever saw." It was one of the great pleasures of my life to turn 18 in time to vote for Reagan (and perhaps as importantly, against Carter...who I once assumed had permanently locked up the title of worst President ever...until recent events have posed a serious threat to his claim). Reagan remains one of the truly great men as well as having been one of our greatest Presidents. Reagan famously told his wife "Honey I forgot to duck." I'm glad he lived through that awful day. Our nation is the better for it.