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.

About Bryan Wendell 3281 Articles
Bryan Wendell, an Eagle Scout, is the founder of Bryan on Scouting and a contributing writer.