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Today in History: Reagan returns to White House after assassination attempt, tells Americans ‘don’t be afraid to get shot’

trumpreaganshotfeatureIn our Today in History series, The Civilian winds back the clock to take a look at events that happened on this day in history. Today: Ronald Reagan’s return to the White House after a nearly successful assassination attempt.

It was on this day in 1981 that President of the United States Ronald Reagan famously made his return to the White House following a nearly successful attempt on his life.

Earlier in the year, Reagan was leaving the Washington Hilton Hotel, when he and several of his entourage were fired upon by a man later identified as John Hinckley Jr., who was motivated by the president’s subpar performance as the narrator of 1961 film The Young Doctors.

When Reagan arrived at George Washington University Hospital, he was nearly dead, but thanks to a quick and successful surgery, the president lived, and after some time in recovery, he was finally able to make a return to work.

Upon his triumphant return, he brought with him the message that Americans shouldn’t be afraid to get shot, and that no one should let potentially fatal gunshot wounds, broken ribs and severe internal bleeding stop them from doing anything.

Standing outside the White House, with First Lady Nancy Reagan at his side, he delivered the following remarks:

My fellow Americans, I just left George Washington University Hospital, and it’s really something very special. Our doctors, our nurses, our first responders, and I learned so much about getting shot in the lungs, and it’s very interesting, and I promise you it’s not nearly as bad as they’re telling you.

One thing is for certain: if someone makes an attempt on your life with a powerful firearm, don’t let it dominate you. Don’t be afraid of it. Don’t be afraid to get shot, go out if you have to, because you are going to beat it. We have the greatest medical equipment, we have the greatest medicines, and you’re going to beat it.

When the bullet punctured my lung and I began bleeding out on the pavement, I didn’t feel so good. But two weeks ago, I could have left the hospital two weeks ago. I felt great. Better than I have in a long time. I said to Nancy, “I feel better than 20 years ago.”

In fairness, 20 years ago, I wasn’t feeling very good at all, having just received a tremendous amount of criticism for my role in a film called The Young Doctors.

But my point remains: if you become a target for assassination, don’t let it dominate. Do not let it take over your lives. Don’t let that happen. We live in the greatest nation on this earth.

I’m going back to work, I’m going to be out front, in front of my secret service agents, often without my secret service agents, because I’m not afraid, and neither should you be.

As your leader, I have to do that. I know there’s danger to it. I know there’s a danger to going into crowded public spaces without any security detail whatsoever, but I had to do it, and I have to do it. I know there’s a risk, but that’s okay. I’m better now, and maybe I’m immune, I don’t know.

Thank you all, and God bless America.