Remembering Distinguished Eagle Scout James S. Brady

Let’s take a moment today to remember Distinguished Eagle Scout James S. Brady, who took a bullet in the attempted assassination of President Ronald Reagan.

Brady died Aug. 4 at age 73 — 33 years after an assassin almost ended his life.

That life had several chapters, but the first included earning the rank of Eagle Scout in 1955 as a member of Troop 259 in the southern Illinois city of Centralia.

Later, after graduating from the University of Illinois, Brady served as White House press secretary under Reagan.

He had only been in that role for 84 days when, on March 30, 1981, he was one of four people shot during John Hinckley Jr.’s attack on the president. Brady was the most seriously injured in the shooting, suffering a serious head wound. He survived but used a wheelchair and suffered health consequences for the rest of his life.

Two years after the attack, in 1983, Brady was named a Distinguished Eagle Scout, an honor presented to Eagle Scouts who earned the award more than 25 years prior and distinguished themselves in their career and life.

He went to visit Troop 259 a few months after receiving the award and observed that the troop was still as strong and active as it had been when he left. He even looked through scrapbooks containing memorabilia of his boyhood days in Scouting.

Brady later became an advocate for gun control, serving as the chairman of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence.

He earned the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian award in the United States. And the room for news conferences at the White House bears his name: the James S. Brady Press Briefing Room.

We salute and remember this Eagle Scout who showed incredible bravery as he selflessly served our nation.

About the Distinguished Eagle Scout Award

The Distinguished Eagle Scout Award was established in 1969 to acknowledge Eagle Scouts who have distinguished themselves on a national level, receiving recognition or eminence within their field and who have a strong record of voluntary service to their community. Only Eagle Scouts who earned the Eagle Scout rank a minimum of 25 years previously are eligible for nomination. The award is granted by the National Eagle Scout Association upon the recommendation of a committee of Distinguished Eagle Scouts.

See a list of recipients here.


  1. I remember when he was shot. I remember seeing a secret service man take a bullet for the president as well He jumped right in front of President Reagan and got shot in the chest. I am not sure if he has a bullet proof vest on or not. I imagine that he did, but still it was a brave thing to do even if it is your job to do so.

  2. Did not know that James S. Brady was an Eagle Scout, but I am not surprised! In the true spirit of what a Scout is in general, and especially an Eagle Scout in particular, he risked and ultimately gave his life, in service to “God and country” without regard for his personal safety. “Well done, good and faithful servant.”
    –Rev. Kenneth W. Prill
    (Retired United Methodist Pastor and current Webelos Den Leader)

  3. The organization that carries his name works tirelessly to undermine the people’s right to keep and bear arms to defend themselves, others, and their nation. An ongoing effort to subvert the people’s rights as protected in the constitution is a troubling legacy for an Eagle scout.

    • My opinion was that he was used by gun control advocates to move forward their message.

      Many of the gun control crowd seem to appropriate victims for their own purpose.

      A name like “the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence” mistates the purpose of the organization. We all are for preventing gun violence.

      Perhaps, if he actually believed in the campaign, rather than being used by it, it should have been called “the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Rights.”

  4. I believe there is an error with the year of his earning Eagle, 1955, or of his age, 73. I’ll be 73 in October, being born in 1944. I joined Boy Scouts in 1955 at age 11 and earned Eagle Scout in March, 1960 at age 15. The article states that Mr. Brady was 73 at the time of his death, so even if he would of turned 74 later this year he would of been born in 1943. That would make him earning Eagle Scout at the age of 12, an impossibility back in the mid-50’s.

    ALL the ranks were harder to earn back then and so were the merit badges; a Scout HAD to earn Swimming and Lifesaving Merit Badges, no either/or; the latter one being very difficult for a 12 year old. Besides, you did not go to summer camp and bang out every merit badge like today.

    No, there’s a typographical error somewhere in the article. I believe they meant to say he JOINED Boy Scouts in 1955.

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