Presidential Protection

The celebration of Presidents’ Day is a good time to celebrate the men who protect the president and various other dignitaries. The Secret Service officially assumed responsibility for protecting the president in 1902. The recent gaffe at the White House whereby uninvited guests came in close proximity of President Obama points up the difficulty of this job. The job has grown more complicated and complex in the modern era. The best source of information on this topic is In the President’s Service: Behind the Scenes with Agents in the Line of Fire and the Presidents They Protect. One of the most dramatic attempts at assassination targeted Harry Truman in 1950. Two Puerto Rican nationalists attacked Blair House (where Truman was staying) and engaged in a pitched gun battle with police and the Secret Service before one was killed and the other captured. The biggest gunfight in Secret Service history was over in forty seconds with a total of twenty-seven shots fired. The incident is recounted in a spellbinding book titled American Gunfight: the Plot to Kill Harry Truman and the Shoot-out that Stopped It.

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