Photo credit: Ron Edmonds/Courtesy The Associated Press

Special Program: The 30th Anniversary of the Assassination Attempt on President Ronald Reagan

March 23, 2011
Location: Walter and Leonore Annenberg Theater

Guests: Jerry Parr, Dr. Joseph Giordano, Del Quentin Wilber, and Judy Woodruff

On March 30, 1981, a deranged gunman took aim at President Ronald Reagan as he walked out of the Washington Hilton hotel in Washington, D.C. Reagan would become the only serving U.S. president to survive being shot in an assassination attempt.

For years, few people knew the truth about how close the president came to dying.

PBS "NewsHour" senior correspondent Judy Woodruff will moderate a panel discussion on the 30th anniversary of the assassination attempt, featuring the two men who played a key role in saving the president's life and the author of a riveting new book that provides the first detailed narrative of the day's events.

  • Jerry Parr, former Secret Service agent and head of Reagan's security detail, who was at the president's side when the would-be-assassin, John Hinckley, opened fire outside the hotel. Parr's quick actions saved Reagan's life.
  • Dr. Joseph Giordano, professor emeritus of surgery and former chairman of the Department of Surgery at the George Washington University Hospital, who founded the hospital's trauma team. It was that team which Giordano oversaw that played a key role in saving Reagan's life.
  • Del Quentin Wilber, Washington Post staff writer and author of the new book "Rawhide Down," which draws on exclusive new interviews with more than 125 people to chronicle that perilous day.

The program will also feature archival news footage from broadcast and cable news networks on March 30, 1981, which illustrates some of the chaos and confusion of that day's news coverage.

This evening is supported by a generous gift to the Newseum from Henry Holt and Company.

Rawhide Down by Del Quentin Wilber
A minute-by-minute account of the attempted assassination of Ronald Reagan, to coincide with the thirtieth anniversary

"Rawhide Down is full of spectacular, original reporting."
—Bob Woodward

"Del Quentin Wilber has taken a story we thought we knew and rendered it wholly fresh, vibrant, and revealing."
—David Maraniss, author of When Pride Still Mattered

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