On this day in 1981: President Reagan is shot

On this day in 1981 – toward the end of my sophomore year of high school – a deranged John Hincklely, Jr., attempted to assassinate President Ronald Reagan, in a misguided and very nearly tragic attempt to impress actress Jodi Foster. Fortunately, he failed, but by the very breadth of a hair: Reagan had been shot under his left arm, but the bullet had ricocheted off a rib and into his lung; it had stopped less than an inch from his heart.

Three others were also wounded in the attack: White House Press Secretary James Brady, D.C. police officer Thomas Delahanty, and Secret Service agent Tim McCarthy, who was wounded covering President Reagan with his own body. Brady was the most seriously wounded of the four, being shot in the head and left permanently paralyzed. He unfortunately later allowed himself to be used as the poster-boy for gun control in the 1980s and ’90s.

President Reagan was severely wounded, but he was a man of tremendous toughness, both mental (until robbed of that, most sadly, by Alzheimer’s disease, in later years) and physical. The most moving episode of this incident was one we did not learn about until much later: how when they arrived at Walter Reed Medical Center, the President – in excruciating pain and weak from loss of blood – nonetheless insisted on walking into the hospital under his own power.

Once safely inside and away from the cameras of the press, he all but collapsed into the arms of the waiting medical staff, and was immediately whisked away by stretcher: but the point had been made. He did not wish America’s enemies to see her Commander-in-Chief laid low by an assassin’s bullet. That personal moral courage and strength of will is one of the reasons he will always live in my heart as my favorite President, at least of my own lifetime. God bless his memory!

He was also a man of tremendous good humor: not for nothing was he referred to as “the Great Communicator.” Historian, author, and Constitutional scholar Tara Ross commented, in her post on the subject today,

“Naturally, a little thing like being shot couldn’t dampen Reagan’s sense of humor. When he saw [his wife Nancy] at the hospital, he quipped, ‘Honey, I forgot to duck.’ On the way into surgery, he told his doctor, ‘I hope you’re a Republican.’ The doctor (who happened to be a liberal Democrat) responded with class: ‘Today, Mr. President, we’re all Republicans.’

As Reagan recovered from surgery, he was placed on a respirator to help his left lung, which had collapsed. The Gipper was still cracking jokes—even if he had to scribble them on a piece of paper. ‘I’d like to do this scene again,’ he wrote, ‘starting at the hotel.'”

She adds,

“Despite his age and the bullet wound, Reagan recovered quickly and was soon back at work, signing a bill from his hospital bed by the next day. In the end, he spent a little less than two weeks in the hospital.”

One tough cookie! But the story isn’t quite over, yet:

Later that year, while giving a speech in West Berlin, a balloon loudly popped. The President paused for the briefest of moments, glanced up with a twinkle in his eye, commented “Missed me,” and continued with his speech. The crowd, understandably, went wild with applause and cheering. He was one of a kind: God’s gift to our nation at that crucial time in our history, he was by turns inspirational, entertaining, and reassuring. Sometimes all of the above, at once!

President Reagan was President from 1981–1989 – basically throughout my “coming of age” years – and was the first President I ever voted for (in 1984). I must confess that I did not and do not agree with everything he said and did as President, but between his success in restoring America’s self-confidence following the debacle of Vietnam, his key role in bringing down the Soviet Union, and incidents such as this which revealed him as a man of great and admirable character, there is a sense in which he will always be, for me, “the” President.

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Happy Thanksgiving (U.S.)!

Norman Rockwell - Thanksgiving
Norman Rockwell’s famous “Thanksgiving” painting – officially “Freedom from Want” – is the third of the Four Freedoms series of four oil paintings by American artist Norman Rockwell. The works were inspired by United States President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s 1941 State of the Union Address, known as Four Freedoms.

Wishing all my American friends a very Happy Thanksgiving! I am looking forward to enjoying turkey with all the trimmings at my brother and sister-in-law’s place; but I hope that all who celebrate will remember that this is, first and foremost, a day of Thanksgiving, and so pause to give thanks to God for all the remarkable benefits we enjoy, both as denizens of this good Earth, and as citizens of this great country. We are truly blessed! May we strive to be worth of that blessing.

Collect for Thanksgiving Day, The Book of Common Prayer 1928

O MOST merciful Father, who hast blessed the labours of the husbandman in the returns of the fruits of the earth; We give thee humble and hearty thanks for this thy bounty; beseeching thee to continue thy loving-kindness to us, that our land may still yield her increase, to thy glory and our comfort; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

In common with many other Presidents, prior to the formal adoption of the third Thursday in November as Thanksgiving Day (George Washington had issued the first Presidential proclamation of Thanksgiving in 1789), Theodore Roosevelt proclaimed Thursday, November 29, 1906, to be a day of thanksgiving and supplication:

By the President of the United States of America.

A PROCLAMATION.

The time of year has come when, in accordance with the wise custom of our forefathers, it becomes my duty to set aside a special day of thanksgiving and praise to the Almighty because of the blessings we have received, and of prayer that these blessings may be continued. Yet another year of widespread well-being has past. Never before in our history or in the history of any other nation has a people enjoyed more abounding material prosperity than is ours; a prosperity so great that it should arouse in us no spirit of reckless pride, and least of all a spirit of heedless disregard of our responsibilities; but rather a sober sense of our many blessings, and a resolute purpose, under Providence, not to forfeit them by any action of our own.

Material well-being, indispensable tho it is, can never be anything but the foundation of true national great-ness and happiness. If we build nothing upon this foundation, then our national life will be as meaningless and empty as a house where only the foundation has been laid. Upon our material well-being must be built a superstructure of individual and national life lived in accordance with the laws of the highest morality, or else our prosperity itself will in the long run turn out a curse instead of a blessing. We should be both reverently thankful for what we have received, and earnestly bent upon turning it into a means of grace and not of destruction.

Accordingly I hereby set apart Thursday, the twenty-ninth day of November, next, as a day of thanksgiving and supplication, on which the people shall meet in their homes or their churches, devoutly to acknowledge all that has been given them, and to pray that they may in addition receive the power to use these gifts aright.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF I have hereunto set my hand and caused the seal of the United States to be affixt.

Done at the City of Washington this 22nd day of October in the year of our Lord one thousand nine hundred and six and of the independence of the United States the one hundred and thirty-first.

— Theodore Roosevelt

The account on the T.R. Center’s website also notes,

“Interestingly, this proclamation may be more cautionary than celebratory. Roosevelt declares the day of thanksgiving in a solemn tone that suggests that American citizens take their blessings for granted. He extorts the population to build upon their material prosperity in a meaningful manner so that this prosperity is not wasted. Considering how sober the final proclamation is, it is more surprising to see the content Roosevelt removed. The document in our digital library clearly shows what the president removed from his original manuscript, the language of which was much harsher. In the sentences that were removed, TR discusses ‘our own folly, weakness or wickedness,’ and expounds upon the theme of disaster that would surely come if Americans are not careful with their ‘material well-being.'”

Indeed. As true now, or more, than it was in 1906!

Consecration of Samuel Seabury, first Anglican Bishop in North America, 1784 | For All the Saints

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Samuel Seabury, the first Bishop in the Protestant Episcopal Church, was consecrated to the episcopate by “Non-Juring” Bishops of the Scottish Episcopal Church in 1784.

Source: Consecration of Samuel Seabury, First Anglican Bishop in North America, 1784 | For All the Saints

A most important commemoration for all American Anglicans: the consecration to the episcopate of Samuel Seabury, the first Anglican Bishop not only in the newly-minted United States, but North America! (AFIK, that includes our friends to the north in Canada, but if I am wrong about that, I’m sure someone will correct me.)

“Samuel Seabury, the first bishop in the Protestant Episcopal Church, was born in Groton, Connecticut, on the thirtieth of November 1729. After ordination in England in 1753, he was assigned to Christ Church, New Brunswick, New Jersey as a missionary for the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel…

“After the War, a number of Connecticut clergymen, meeting in secret on the twenty-fifth of March, 1783, named Seabury or Jeremiah Leaming, whoever would be willing and able, to seek episcopal consecration in England. Leaming declined, while Seabury accepted and set sail for England.

“After a year of negotiation, Seabury found it impossible to obtain episcopal orders from the Church of England because, as an American citizen, he could not swear allegiance to the Crown… Seabury then turned to the Non-Juring bishops of the Scottish Episcopal Church, and on the twenty-fourth of November 1784, in Aberdeen, he was consecrated by the bishop and the bishop coadjutor of Aberdeen and the bishop of Ross and Caithness, in the presence of a number of clergy and laity.”
Continue reading “Consecration of Samuel Seabury, first Anglican Bishop in North America, 1784 | For All the Saints”

Why Prince Charles Is Laying a Wreath For Queen Elizabeth This Morning for Remembrance Day at London’s Cenotaph

Wreaths Are Laid At The Cenotaph On Remembrance Sunday

Today, the royal family is marking the 100th anniversary of World War I.

Source: Why Prince Charles Is Laying a Wreath For Queen Elizabeth This Morning for Remembrance Day at London’s Cenotaph

“At 92, Queen Elizabeth is showing no sign of slowing down. Just last week, for example, she was spotted horseback riding on the grounds of Windsor Castle. But she has started to pass on some of her responsibilities to the younger members of her family.

“This morning, Prince Charles lay a wreath at London’s Cenotaph on his mother’s behalf during the national service of remembrance. It is the second year the Prince of Wales has performed the duty on Remembrance Day, which this year holds additional significance, as it falls on the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I.”

Centenary of Armistice Day: 11 November, 1918-2018

Centenary-Armistice-Day-1918-2018On this day, almost at this hour – at the “eleventh hour, of the eleventh day, of the eleventh month” – the guns of the Western Front fell silent at last, and four years of a cruel, horrific, European brother-killing war, the “Great War,” World War One, the “war to end all wars” (if only!) came to an end.

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Bled nearly dry by four years of meat-grinder warfare, a whole generation nearly annihilated, Europe was exhausted. But the arrival of more than a million fresh, able, and (for the most part) well-equipped American troops turned the tide. Now hopelessly outnumbered, its cities falling to Marxist revolution and even parts of its once-proud military in mutiny, Germany had no choice but to sue for peace. Continue reading “Centenary of Armistice Day: 11 November, 1918-2018”

City of Vienna Refuses To Remember Jan III Sobieski | Defend Europa

A memorial statue for Polish king Jan III Sobieski was supposed to be unveiled on 12 September in Vienna. A surprising turn of events has caused confusion.

Source: City of Vienna Refuses To Remember Jan III Sobieski – Defend Europa

Unfortunately, not everyone understands and appreciates the significance of King Jan III Sobieski’s epic accomplishment in the Battle of Vienna:

“Plans to raise a monument for Jan III Sobieski, the Polish king who helped save Europe in the Battle of Vienna, have come to a surprise halt. The City of Vienna and its Social Democratic mayor Michael Ludwig, who has been elected in May, now refuse to finish the construction.

“The memorial for the Polish king was planned in 2013 and supposed to be unveiled to the public on September 12 2018, the 335th anniversary of the liberation of Vienna. As polskiradio reports, it is now ready to be delivered to the former Imperial Capital. There was no official statement from the city, however, ‘there were signals from, among others, the city council’ that the monument could be seen as an offence to Turkish residents.”

In other news, there are reports that the City Council of Minas Tirith has expressed its disapproval of plans to erect a statue of King Theoden of Rohan in the City, over concerns that it might be seen as offensive to Orcish residents…

The charge of the Winged Hussars: the lifting of the Siege of Vienna

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Some further details on the lifting of the Siege of Vienna:

On this day in history, September 12, 1683, the combined forces of the Holy Roman (German) Empire and the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth (the Holy League), under the overall command of King Jan III Sobieski of Poland, moved into position to engage the Ottoman Turkish besiegers outside the walls of Vienna. Fierce clashes followed. Imperial / Holy League forces made headway against the Ottoman invaders, but were unable to conclusively defeat them.

At around 3:00 in the afternoon, King Jan began to move his cavalry into position. As they came out of the woods and began to form up, they were greeted with enthusiastic cheers by the allied troops. An hour later, about four o’clock, the Polish Winged Hussars launched an attack which battered the Turkish lines, causing great consternation and forcing the Turkish general to retreat to a more favorable position. Infantry forces continued the fight against the Ottomans.

At six o’clock came the final blow. In the largest cavalry charge in history, King Jan Sobieski launched 18,000 cavalry, led by his 3,000 Winged Hussars, against the Ottoman lines. They clove through the Turks like the proverbial “hot knife through butter,” breaking and scattering them completely and driving them from the field. As the attack crested, the Austrian defenders of Vienna sallied from their city to join in, adding the crowning blow.

The siege of Vienna had been broken, and the decades to follow would see the Muslim Turks driven almost completely out of Christian Europe. After the battle, King Jan III Sobieski (who would receive the title Defensor Fidei – “Defender of the Faith” – from Pope Innocent XI) reportedly announced, in an intentional modification of Julius Caesar’s famous phrase, “Veni, vidi, Deus vicit” — “I came, I saw, God conquered.”

Footnote: the Lithuanians have not been mentioned. That’s because King Jan left his kingdom almost completely undefended, bringing his entire army to the relief of Vienna! As a result, the Hungarians decided to take advantage of the situation and try to take Polish territory. The Lithuanians, also marching toward Vienna, turned aside to counter-attack the Hungarians. They were successful in driving them back, but it meant that the Lithuanian army did not arrive at Vienna until several days after the siege had been broken.