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White House briefing room renamed for James Brady

Former press secretary, shot in 1981, honored by president

February 11, 2000
Web posted at: 11:31 a.m. EST (1631 GMT)

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- President Bill Clinton renamed the White House briefing room on Friday to honor James S. Brady, the presidential press secretary severely wounded in the attempted 1981 assassination of then-President Ronald Reagan.

Brady, Clinton
James Brady posed with his wife and son and President Clinton.  

Clinton made the announcement during a Friday morning ceremony in the briefing room, which was recently spruced up with new paint and new carpeting.

"Jim Brady is living proof that you can't kill courage -- that it takes more than a cheap handgun to destroy a strong spirit," said Clinton.

"I am deeply touched by this honor. Although I actually came before you lions for a little over two months, they were the best two months of my career," said Brady, in reference to the assembled press.

"It honors his commitment to public service and the job that he did that was limited by the very real risks that public servants take," said White House Press Secretary Joe Lockhart before Friday's event.

Lockhart said the dedication also recognizes "how he [Brady] overcame adversity" to take on the issue of gun control.

Brady was shot when John Hinkley tried to assassinate Reagan outside the Washington Hilton Hotel in 1981.

After the attack, Brady and his wife started working with the group Handgun Control Inc., which aims to toughen gun laws.

Their work paid off in 1993, when Clinton signed the so-called Brady bill into law. The bill requires a five-day waiting period for handgun purchases.

At Friday's ceremony, the president unveiled a plaque that will be permanently displayed in the briefing room. The plaque says Brady "served with honor and distinction" and strengthened "the bond between government and the press."

In a sign of the admiration and respect accorded Brady, former press secretaries Mike McCurry, Larry Speakes, Pierre Salinger and Jerald ter Horst attended the dedication.

 
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