Last night I watched the Rawhide Down: The Near Assassination of Ronald Reagan C-SPAN session, on TV. The program description is shown next:
Panelists commemorated the 30th anniversary of the assassination attempt on President Reagan on March 30, 1981. He was shot by John Hinckley, Jr., as he left a lunch-time event at the Washington Hilton hotel, becoming the only serving U.S. president to survive being shot in an assassination attempt. The discussion included archival news footage from broadcast and cable news networks that illustrated some of the chaos and confusion of the day’s news coverage. Del Quentin Wilber is the author of Rawhide Down: The Near Assassination of Ronald Reagan (Henry Holt and Company, 2011). The book details the Secret Service and White House response to the attempt, the severity of the president’s injuries, and the surgeons who operated on President Reagan. Jerry Parr, who was the head of the security detail, was at President Reagan’s side when he was shot and pushed him into a limousine. Dr. Joseph Giordano, the surgeon who operated on the president, founded and oversaw the trauma team at George Washington University Hospital that played a key role in saving the president’s life. “The 30th Anniversary of the Assassination Attempt on President Ronald Reagan” was a special program at the Newseum, with the support of Henry Holt and Company.
I was at work as a machinist at International Harvester [ now known as Navistar ] on March 30, 1981. In fact, I was in a meeting with the Melrose Park Plant Manager as one of several company selected U.A.W. union members asked to attend this special meeting. Suddenly a staff person entered the room with a message for the Plant Manager, it was the news of the assassination attempt.
I voted from Reagan in the 1980 Election, a landslide election that eliminated President Jimmy Carter from a second term in that office.
It was a shock to hear of another assassination attempt. I already experienced President Kennedy’s assassination in 1963, Dr. King’s and Senator Bobby Kennedy’s assassinations in 1968. President Gerald Ford’s two assassination attempts in 1975. There were other assassination attempts in my lifetime.
This C-SPAN session involved three people who were there that day and one researcher who later wrote a book about the event. All four provide important insights into the critical aspects leading up to the attempt, immediately after the event, and the emergency and surgical room activities that followed.