Summary: This is a powerful sermon using pictures from the assassination attempt on Ronald Reagan. I have the powerpoint to share.
Before I start let me make a disclaimer and two promises…
This sermon will be 95% setup and then will have only one main point and a quick application
1. You may not like this sermon but you will remember it
2. You will get to see some truly amazing things
(Apologies to those unable to see the video)
It is hard for me to tell you how excited I am about preaching this sermon. The idea came to me about three weeks ago and I have given it a lot of thought.
One of my favorite videos to watch is the Ronald Reagan assassination attempt from 1981. Why?
Heroism!! This video is loaded with heroes… people who did some truly amazing and courageous things.
Most people never know a real, honest to goodness, war hero.
We know and have great respect for everyday heroes…
Police, fire, military, TEACHERS
But few of us know any actual, decorated heroes
I remember as a child when Jantzen Childers was wounded in battle and received the Purple Heart medal. We boys in Lockhart idolized him. When we played war… we fought over who was Jantzen.
But even in you know a bonafide hero…
Very few people ever have a chance to be an eyewitness to someone in the act of true heroism. We hear or read about it… but never see it.
Today you are going to get to eyewitness several bonefide heroes in the act of heroism.
Let me set the stage
The year is 1981 and we have a new President, Ronald Reagan.
He is leaving the Washington Hilton Hotel, and heading for the presidential limousine. He is surrounded by DC policemen, Secret Service agents and media.
Unknown to any of them there is another person in the crowd, John W. Hinkley, a mentally deranged 26 year-old who had a fascination with actress Jodi Foster and decided that the way to get her attention was to murder the president.
He had actually tried to assassinate Jimmy Carter, but was arrested on a firearms charge. His next attempt came on March 30, 1981 at 2:25 pm when Hinkley, at pointblank range fired 6 shots at President Reagan.
Hinkley was waiting for the President but there were people between him and the target: Press Sec. James Brady and DC Policeman Thomas DelaHanty. Hinkley’s first shot hits Brady in the head and his second hits officer DelaHanty in the neck… both fall like rocks, clearing a path to Reagan. The third shot hits the window of the limo right at Reagan’s stomach the fifth is never found and the last… pure luck… shot ricochets off of the limo door jam and hits Reagan in his left side, just under his arm and lodges in the heart.
And this is where it gets good. In the next two seconds two men will become heroes and you will get to see their heroism.
First of all though… when a person is surprised by an explosion or loud noise beside them… what is the normal human reaction?
Duck-- cover-- flee (SHOW)
Duck and cover is to make yourself as small a target as possible
Flee is the normal reaction to fear… to get away from the danger
QUESTION: What is a hero? a person who has performed a heroic (brave, courageous) act
Pendleton definition: a person who, in the face of danger and personal injury, overcomes the instincts to make himself small, flee and take care of number one… and makes himself big, confronts the danger and risks life and limb to protect another
We’re going to watch the attack… it took only about 2 seconds but you are going to see it in slow motion… see if you can recognize the heroes!
Let me point out two heroes
1. Secret Service Agent, Jerry Parr
He is assigned directly to the President.
This is the man who always was MY hero… the one who I looked up to the most.
Shots are fired. 6 shots in 1.9 seconds… almost quicker than you can react.
Reagan flinches, ducks and tries to get away.
But Agent Parr, in just .4 seconds puts his hand on the President’s shoulder, pushes the president’s head down, and used his body to shield and to tackle the President into the limo… the safe zone.
Even as the shots ring out, in less than one second, Parr has the President halfway into the limo.
No shrinking, no fleeing, no thinking… just reacting with hundreds of hours of training… he stepped into the line of fire, with no of himself, but of the President… his responsibility.
Watch here as you see Parr react
Now that is a hero
But let me show you the real hero