Perspective from Graham Shalgian: Much continues to be written about President Ronald Reagan’s press secretary James Brady, who passed away this week at the age of 73. Critically injured during the 1981 assassination attempt on Reagan, Brady became an outspoken champion for gun control. He is deserving of all of the kind words and praise being offered. His tireless …
Much continues to be written about President Ronald Reagan’s press secretary James Brady, who passed away this week at the age of 73. Critically injured during the 1981 assassination attempt on Reagan, Brady became an outspoken champion for gun control. He is deserving of all of the kind words and praise being offered. His tireless and successful advocacy for federal background checks and waiting periods is all the more impressive considering the nonexistent common ground amongst modern Republicans and Democrats on gun control, no matter how sensible.
But what strikes me about Brady, and others like him, is the resilience of the human spirit. The assassination attempt resulted in the paralysis of Brady’s left arm, a weakened left leg, slurred speech, short-term memory loss, reported constant pain and suffering and the need to use a wheelchair. I can only imagine his difficult and likely winding pathway towards acceptance of his new life. One moment he’s arguably at the pinnacle of his career and moments later he’s in a hospital bed and his life has changed forever. Yet he found the strength and courage to move forward and along with his wife Sarah help launch the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence.
While Brady’s life is a timely example of how human beings persevere, his story is not alone. Whether it’s high-profile atrocities like 9/11 and the Boston Marathon bombings or equally devastating yet underreported stories, people’s lives are changed every day through the tragic loss of loved ones, physical disabilities and/or mental and emotional hardships. Inevitably there will always be media stories of resilient individuals who seemingly possess an almost superhuman ability to manage through their loss. But, at the same time, there are the less well-known stories of those who overcome nearly insurmountable challenges simply to find the strength to get out of bed and quietly move through their activities of daily living.
Both the public figures whose stories we know well and the private individuals whose stories aren’t quite as known are equally heroic and inspiring. Like everyone, I’ve dealt with loss and setbacks, but nothing close to the burdens that others have encountered.
I can only hope that if one day I face that type of challenge I can respond with the gritty determination and reported good humor of those like James Brady.