Reagan writes after his own cancer operation, “Whenever I needed courage, I tried to dip into that bottomless well that has served you and Jim. Nancy and I are grateful for your concern and especially for your prayers.”James Brady was Director of Public Affairs and Research for the Reagan-Bush Election Committee in 1980, and then Spokesperson for the Office of the President-Elect. After Reagan took office, Brady became White House Press Secretary. On March 30, 1981, just 69 days into his presidency, Ronald Reagan and his cabinet members, including Brady, were leaving the Washington Hilton Hotel when a gunman opened fire in an assassination attempt on the President. The first of six bullets hit Brady in the head. Reagan and Secret Service officer Timothy McCarthy were also shot and taken to the hospital. Brady survived, but the wound left him with slurred speech, mood swings, and partial paralysis that required the full-time use of a wheelchair. Yet he showed great strength and courage throughout in his struggle to recover from the shooting. Reagan never forgot him or his sacrifice, and though he was unable to work as the White House Press Secretary, the President kept him on nominally in the position until the end of the his administration.The Bradys became involved in the fight against handguns. Jim’s wife Sarah became the chairwoman of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, and in 1993 succeeded in getting the Brady Bill passed and signed. It mandates federal background checks on firearm purchasers in the United States.On July 13, 1985, while President Reagan was undergoing surgery to remove a benign polyp in his large intestine, doctors discover a second polyp and performed a biopsy to determine whether or not it was cancerous. Reagan’s second polyp did indeed turn out to be cancer. The following week, doctors removed two feet of the President’s intestine. After the surgery, Reagan reportedly quipped, “Well, I’m glad that’s all out”, and said that he planned to live a long time. Sarah Brady wrote him to offer good wishes on his recovery. This is his response.Typed letter signed, as President, on White House letterhead, Washington, August 2, 1985, to Mrs. Brady. “Over the past few weeks, whenever I needed courage, I tried to dip into that bottomless well that has served you and Jim. Nancy and I are grateful for your concern and especially for your prayers. They have been responsible for the speedy recovery I am experiencing and for the strength that has sustained us. We couldn’t have done it without the love and support you and Jim offered. With our gratitude and affection, Ron.” (Inventory #: 11148)
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