Deep Dive into History: The Day President Reagan Was Shot

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Wednesday, Mar 30 2022 by

Ronald Reagan was born in the small Illinois town of Tampico, and rose to fame as a leading actor during the golden age of Hollywood. But fame and fortune on the silver screen was only his first act. He went on to become the 40th president of the United States, and has left a legacy long after his eight years in office.

On March 30, 1981, a delusional man attempted to kill the new president. But due to luck, quick thinking by the Secret Service, and some heroic citizens, the president was hit but not killed.

In honor of the last time a president has been attacked, let’s take a look at Ronald Reagan’s life.

Birthplace, Tampico, Illinois

Ronald Wilson Reagan was born on February 6, 1911 in an apartment above a tavern in the small town of Tampico. His parents were poor, but must have been inspirational to their two boys, because Ronald became a famous actor, governor and president, and Neil became a successful advertising executive.

The building, now called the Graham Building, is a national historical site, and you can visit, if you happen to find yourself in the tiny town of less than 1,000 people.

Birthplace of Ronald Reagan (StreetView)
Birthplace of Ronald Reagan

Childhood Home, Dixon, Illinois

When he was young, the family moved to Dixon, Illinois for better job prospects. They lived here for about three years; not a long time, but with such a transient family, it felt like a long time to the young boy. President Reagan has reflected on the home and the time spent there as some of the best of his childhood. The boys had plenty of adventures, including raising rabbits.

The home is open for visitors from April to October each year.

Ronald Reagan's Boyhood Home (Google Maps)
Ronald Reagan's Boyhood Home

Rancho del Cielo, Santa Barbara, California

Nicknamed the “Western White House” while he was president, Ronald and Nancy bought the property in 1974 for about $2.6 million in today’s dollars. They bought the home as Ronald’s term as Governor of California was wrapping up, and turned it into a wonderful vacation home for the close-knit family.

They enjoyed spending time at the ranch, with its 1,500 square foot home, horse stables, and a lake. As president, he hosted foreign leaders and dignitaries, as well as signed legislation into law.

Regan developed Alzheimer’s after his second term as president, and he stopped visiting after 1995. Later, it was sold to the Young America Foundation, and they allow students and guests to visit, but it is closed to the public.

Ronald Reagan Ranch (Google Maps)
Ronald Reagan Ranch

Last Home, Bel Air, California

After serving two terms as president, Ronald and Nancy retired back to California. They bought the house from friends for about $2.5 million, and it was the perfect place to retire.

On June 5, 2004, Ronald Reagan passed away after a long struggle with Alzheimer’s. The home sold in 2016 for $15 million dollars to a former Hollywood agent and Reagan supporter. The home was demolished in 2020.

Ronald & Nancy Reagan's House (Former) (Birds Eye)
Ronald & Nancy Reagan's House (Former)

Site of Attempted Assassination, Washington, D.C.

Shortly after taking office, President Reagan went to the Washington Hilton for a speaking engagement. As he was leaving, deranged John Hinckley, Jr. shot at the president. Hinckley thought he was proving his love for Jodie Foster by shooting the president.

Immediately, Press Secretary Brady was hit and severely wounded. A Secret Service agent and DC police officer were also wounded. Another agent forced Reagan down and into the waiting limo. At the same time, bystanders near Hinckley realized he was the shooter and tackled him, limiting his ability to continue shooting. Hinckley was eventually convicted of the shooting, and placed in a hospital until 2016. He now lives with his mother under supervision.

Site of the assassination attempt on President Reagan (StreetView)
Site of the assassination attempt on President Reagan

George Washington University Hospital, Washington, D.C.

In spite of security’s best efforts, Reagan was shot as a bullet ricocheted off the car and into his torso. The limo rushed him to George Washington University Hospital, where he was quickly treated for shock and the bullet wound.

If it hadn’t been for the quick thinking by the people assigned to protect the president, as well as bystanders, the president’s term, and life, would likely have been cut tragically short.

George Washington University Hospital (Google Maps)
George Washington University Hospital

Presidential Library, Simi Valley, California

As with all recent presidents, Ronald Reagan established a presidential library to house his official papers and other presidential records, as well as honor and promote his legacy.

The library opened in 1991, and serves as a wonderful educational experience for those wishing to learn more about the 40th’s president’s life, as well as his administration.

Ronald Reagan Presidential Library (Google Maps)
Ronald Reagan Presidential Library

Presidential Library Oval Office

The library has several displays highlighting the president’s term, including a full-scale reproduction of the Oval Office.

The White House Oval Office replica, Presidential desk (StreetView)
The White House Oval Office replica, Presidential desk

Reagan and Gorbachev Statue

The library focuses on highlights from the administration, including the monumental meeting between Reagan and Gorbachev of the Soviet Union.

Statue of Presidents Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev (StreetView)
Statue of Presidents Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev

Grave Site, Simi Valley, California

After a seven-day long funeral service which included laying in state in the U.S. Capitol and a funeral service at the National Cathedral, Ronald Reagan was interred at his presidential library in Simi Valley. Visitors are able to pay tribute to the groundbreaking president at the site.

Gravesite of President Ronald W. Reagan (Birds Eye)
Gravesite of President Ronald W. Reagan

These are just a few places that are important to the life and legacy of Ronald Reagan. If he had not survived the shot that fateful day, who knows if the Soviet Union would have fallen when it did and the Communist regimes of Eastern Europe changed to democratic countries. From his career in Hollywood, to his service as governor in California, to his two terms as president, he did it all, and left a powerful reputation that lasts to this day.