March 30, 2020

The day President Ronald Reagan was shot
Frank Allnutt

March 30 has been a well-remembered date in my life.

  • On March 30, 1965, after graduating from the University of Denver, I left my family in Denver and set out for a job awaiting me at the Walt Disney Studio in Burbank, California.

    • On March 30, 1968, I was married at Bel Air Presbyterian Church in Los Angeles.

    • On March 30, 1981, President Ronald Reagan survived being shot by John W. Hinckley, Jr.

  • It is of the latter date that I here write about a tidbit of Presidential history that has never before been made public and was known only by a very few.

    The wounded President Reagan

    John Hinckley, Jr.

    JoAnn and Jack Hinckley

    On that fateful day I could scarcely believe what I was watching on TV news. Time after time I witnessed replays of the shooting of President Reagan.

    But there was more added to the shock of seeing the attempted assassination of the President of the United States. I'll explain:

    First of all, the would-be assassin was the youngest son of JoAnn and Jack Hinckley, a couple from my church in Denver. They had befriended me and my family from the time I joined the church staff a few months earlier.

    Second, my family had previously become acquainted with then California Governor Reagan and his family—at Bel Air Presbyterian Church in Los Angeles. You see, I was born with a hearing loss, so my family sat up front so I could hear better—usually in the second pew. The first pew was reserved for the Governor and his family who attended the Sunday worship services whenever they were in Los Angeles. For security reasons, their attendance was never publicized in advance. The worship services never began until the Reagans were ushered to their usual seats in the front pew. Occasionally, however, it was occupied, so the Reagans joined my family in the second pew. Occasionally, Mrs. Reagan sat next to me, and I was a kind of barrier between her and my rambunctious little son, Garrett.

    Fast forward to March 30, 1981: President Reagan was shot by the son of my friends, the Hinckleys.

    The day after the shooting the Hinckleys asked me to draft a personal letter for them to send to President Reagan and the First Lady. They believed it was the right thing to do since both they and the Reagans were Christians.

    I advised them that their lawyer would probably not want them to mail it. But they insisted. So, I quickly drafted a letter, and the Hinckleys approved it, word-for-word.
    However, as I anticipated, the Hinckley’s lawyers advised them not to mail it. They complied.

    I never made a copy of the letter for myself because of its confidentiality.

    So, for me, the date of March 30 every year is a day of reflections.

    Now, on this date of March 30, 2020, we find our country and the world beset by the global Coronavirus epidemic, the economic resession, and unprecedented left-leaning political resentment and hatred of our sitting President, Donald Trump.

    I pray we will get through this day without it becoming a notorious chapter in history.


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    Franklin Allnutt