Friday, March 29, 2013

Saturday is Doctors Day

A "deranged drifter," John Hinckley Jr., shot President Ronald Reagan on March 30, 1981. Reagan was badly wounded, but he still found the strength to quip with his doctors, "Please tell me you're Republicans."

Reagan was not the first U.S. President to survive an assassination attempt; Squeaky Fromme, for example, tried to take a shot at President Gerald Ford in 1975, but the gun didn't go off.

But Reagan was the first U.S. President to actually be shot while in office and survive (Andrew Jackson had taken a bullet in a duel before he was President). Reagan also broke, or his doctors broke, the so called 'curse of the zeroes.' Until Reagan, every President elected in a year ending with a '0' from William Henry Harrison (in 1840) onwards had died in office (Lincoln in 1860, Garfield in 1880, McKinley in 1900 -- all assassinated -- Harding in 1920, FDR in 1940 and, of course, JFK in 1960).

Regan's doctors saved him (Garfield's doctors may have hastened his demise) but neither of those events has anything to do with Doctors Day. Instead, according to Usual Suspect, Holiday Insights, "Doctors' Day observances date back to March 30, 1933. It was started by Eudora Brown Almond of Winder, Ga. The day marks the anniversary of the first use of general anesthesia in surgery. The first National Doctor's Day was celebrated in 1991." (The attempt on Reagan's life does have something to do with why March 30 is called by some National I Am In Control Day, after Al Haig's unfortunate -- and inaccurate -- choice of words back at the White House after the news got out about Reagan's shooting.)

Saturday will also be Pencil Day. According to Usual Suspect, on March 30, 1858, "the United States Patent and Trademark Office granted the first-ever patent for a modern pencil with an eraser attached to it. Hymen Lipman created the wooden pencil and received high praise for how easy it was to use for writing."

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