Today's passing of former Secretary of State Alexander Haig, brought back memories of the 80's including his famous (albeit, incorrect) declaration of being in charge after the shooting of President Ronald Regan. Most people remember exactly where they were when they heard of the shooting of President Kennedy. Do you remember where you were when you heard of the shooting of President Regan?? I remember as if it were yesterday.
I was in dance class at Adelphi, the only thing I knew I could minor in and not get an F. I'd already tried economics, history and photography and was well on my way to getting kicked out before I wisely chose to electively withdraw. So, there we were, sweating it out in Miss DeeDees class, just like every other afternoon. Now, Miss DeeDee took this very seriously, and was a bit of a diva. No recorded music for her! We had to have a live pianist at every class, and each of us was dressed identically in the requisite black and pink. Her trademark was her long stick, which she tapped (OK, occasionally banged) rhythmically on the floor, periodically slamming it if her errant ballerinas were not cooperating.
One thing you NEVER did was to interrupt Miss DeeDee's class. Let the snow fall, the bell toll...class did not end until we were properly dismissed and we thanked Miss DeeDee with our applause. So imagine the horror when in the middle of class, we hear a knock on the door. I really felt for the poor slob who got elected to spread the news!! This poor kid stood quaking at the door, begging madame's pardon and regretting to have to tell her that the President had been shot. We all thought that girl was toast, but I guess Miss DeeDee was a huge Regan fan. Her stick dropped to the floor with a bang, she slapped her forhead dramatically and said, "I simply cannot go on any longer." With that, she sashayed out of the room, leaving 8 stunned klutzes staring after her. HHHmmmmm. This must be serious. Not only did she get interrupted, but she left!! Stopped!! Walked out!!! Does this mean we get to go home?? It took a 10 minute debate until we reached the conclusion it was safe to leave.
I don't think the full import of the events hit any of us until we got to a TV and saw the news. Fortunately, the President survived and went on to recover. James Brady, the White House Press Secretary was also wounded, and permanently disabled as a result of the shooting. He and his wife went on to become advocates of gun control. But, we all learned something. We learned that the Secretary of State is not third in command after the Vice President. That would be the Speaker of the House (Tip O'Neill at that time), with the Secretary of State coming after that. Well, at least someone stepped up to the plate!