Each of us has moments or days in our lives that because of their circumstances are unforgettable. For most of us over the age of about 25, 9/11 was one such day; 9/11 was a day that collectively many of us will never forget. Other unforgettable days are more personal. For example, I’ll never forget the day that my father passed away unexpectedly of a heart attack at age 59. That was more than a two years ago now and periodic waves of disbelief still wash over me regarding my father’s passing. Another such day that I’ll never forget is the day of the assassination attempt on President Reagan.
I was in fourth grade at the time, and we were headed back to class from a newly constructed playground on campus when one of my fellow students reported that “The President got shot!” I recall walking up the stairs to my classroom wondering about the President: Had he been badly injured? Would he survive? As time went on we learned that President Reagan’s injuries were not life-threatening, but that his Assistant and White House Press Secretary, James Brady, was badly injured and might not survive.
Though I was neither a Republican nor particularly religious at that time in my life, I recall being pre-occupied with Mr Brady and praying that he would be okay; that he would not only survive, but would make a full recovery. James Brady’s story held my attention for years after the assassination attempt.
As it turns out, while Mr. Brady was nearly killed and became permanently disabled as a consequence of the 1981 shooting, he did survive.
Brady went on to found The Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, a non-profit organization named for Mr. Brady, who following the shooting, became an ardent supporter of gun control. The stated mission of the Brady Campaign is “to reduce gun violence…” via “sensible gun laws, regulations, and public policies through grassroots activism, electing public officials who support gun laws, and increasing public awareness of gun violence.”