and mannerism helped conceal how close the nation came to another tragedy. Being that Reagan was seventy years old when he was shot, the Reagan administration and the Reagan family did 53 “March.” 98. 54 “March.” 96.
10 not want to put any ounce of doubt in the American public that Reagan was not able to handle the responsibilities of being president. The public was treated with Reagan’s witticisms, such as he’s quip to Nancy Reagan while waiting for decision to be made about surgery, “Honey, I forgot to duck,” which he borrowed “from Jack Dempsey’s line to his wife the night he was beaten by Gene Tunney for the heavyweight championship.” 55 The president’s inner circle also mentioned that when he saw his aides, “he said, ‘Who’s minding the store?’ to reassure them…and also reminding them that there is a store which they must mind.” 56 His witticism did not stop with his aides or his wife. He even told one of his doctors while being prepared for surgery, “I hope you’re a Republican.” To which one of his doctors responded, “Today everyone is a Republican.” 57 He reassured his doctors, nurses, and everyone around him after surgery, when he joked with a nurse that “All in all, I’d rather be in Philadelphia.” 58 Even though Reagan was gravely injured, he still showed his spunk and optimism that “evoked appreciation among ordinary Americans.” 59 According to an article in the National Review, on that Monday afternoon, Reagan knew that “the nation itself had once again been wounded physically” “with his utterly sure instinct.” 60 The article continues with, “he proved that a physical wound need not be a spiritual wound, and from his bed in the George Washington University Hospital he reminded America of what it actually is.” 61 The article also mentions that they could not remember “when an American statesman has so naturally exhibited the virtue of grace under pressure” as much as Reagan had showed at the time. 62 55 Reagan. An American Life . 260. 56 “Reagan’s Finest Hour.” National Review , 1981. 400. 57 “Reagan’s Finest Hour” 1981. 400. 58 Ibid. 59 Schaller, Michael. Reagan, Ronald Wilson , 2004. 60 “Reagan’s Finest Hour” 1981. 401. 61 Ibid. 62 Ibid.
11 Overall, the assassination attempt on Ronald Reagan showed the United States and the world what Reagan is made of. It also showed his personality and character, in a situation that was a lot more serious than the administration and the president let on. Even in the darkest of hours, Reagan and his administration was able to show the world just how hard it is to crush the American spirit that resides in the Presidential Office. “If courage is ‘grace under pressure,’ as Hemmingway would have it, Reagan’s jaunty, self-deprecating wit certainly epitomizes it…” 63 Reagan and his administration showed ‘grace under pressure’, even if some did so, more than others. John W. Hinckley, Jr. has seemed to have improved his mental health and looks to be doing better.
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