NRL News

A Look Back 30 Years and One Day

by | Apr 1, 2011

 By Dave Andrusko

President Reagan in the hospital following an assassination attempt

Today is the sixth anniversary of the starvation death of Terri Schindler Schiavo. I talk about her tragic and wholly unnecessary death in Part One. If you have a chance, please take a few minutes out of your busy day to read my comments.

Yesterday was the 30th anniversary of the assassination attempt on pro-life President Ronald Reagan. Wednesday simply got away from me, but I hope you won’t confuse my tardiness with a lack of appreciation for what might have happened had John Hinckley been successful.

On second thought, before I go down that trail—and it IS tempting to play the endlessly fascinating alternative history game of “What if?–let me instead offer a more personal reminisce to go along with reprinting the contents of a powerful letter President Reagan wrote to the Movement which appeared on page one of the October 11, 1984, edition of National Right to Life News.

In 1981 I was working on a master’s degree and volunteering for Minnesota Citizens Concerned for Life, National Right to Life’s Minnesota affiliate. I was driving down Nicollet Avenue when I heard the news over the radio that there had been an assassination attempt on President Reagan’s life.

I would never pretend to remember many of t he details, but because it was not until much later that we learned how close the President came to dying, I assume at the time, like pretty much everyone else, I knew only that he had been shot outside the Washington Hilton Hotel.

March 30, 1981 was 17 ½ years after the assassination of President John K. Kennedy and only 5 ½ years after two assassination attempts on the life of President Gerald Ford. For those of us who were adults on November 22, 1963, the news that still another President had been wounded, and perhaps killed, was almost more than we could bear.

But President Reagan survived, thanks largely to a brave and quick-witted Secret Service agent and skilled doctors and nurses at George Washington University Hospital. Hemingway famously defined courage as “grace under fire.” Never did that description better describe a man’s response than the manner in which President Reagan handled what he quickly learned was a very serious threat to his life.

Let me conclude with a few thoughts I penned last month on the occasion of what would have been President Reagan’s 100th birthday (

“For pro-lifers of a certain age,” I wrote, “President Ronald Reagan will always be first in our hearts. It is possible to exaggerate his pro-life accomplishments, although that would be difficult. But it would impossible to overstate the extent to which our 40th President altered the trajectory of the abortion discussion.

“What is often under-appreciated is how keen was the President’s peripheral vision. He clearly saw that if the abortion ethos was not contained, it inextricably would seek out new categories of victims. To the left, the very young, born less than perfect. To the right the medically dependent elderly.

“President Reagan took office almost eight years to the day after the Supreme Court unleashed the abortion juggernaut in its grotesque Roe v. Wade decision.

“President Reagan’s administration began the journey that you and I are on today–a journey that recalls us from out of the darkness and into the light.”

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