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The Iranian hostage crisis ends as Ronald Reagan is sworn in as president. But the year is marked by assassins setting their sights on some of the world's most powerful leaders. Gunmen wound President Reagan and Pope John Paul II and Egypt's President Sadat is killed in a hail of bullets while reviewing a military parade.

  • Hostages released
  • Reagan shot
  • Pope John Paul II shot
  • O'Connor selected for Supreme Court
  • Sadat assassinated
  • Reagan picks first woman for Supreme Court -- July 7, 1981

    On July 7, President Reagan nominates Sandra Day O'Connor for the U.S. Supreme Court, making her the first woman ever tapped to serve on the nation's highest court. O'Connor, 51, had been a member of the Arizona Court of Appeals for 18 months at the time of her appointment. She had also served as majority leader of the Arizona Senate, enabling her to bring rare legislative experience to the bench. Variously characterized as a moderate and a conservative, the Republican O'Connor had a record of supporting abortion rights and the Equal Rights Amendment. Her selection is praised by women's groups, but opposed by the anti-abortion lobby.

    O'Connor press conference:
    928K QuickTime Movie (160x120) 1.8M QuickTime Movie (320x240)

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    Sadat assassinated -- October 6, 1981

    Egyptian President Anwar el-Sadat of Egypt is assassinated October 6 when a group of commandos in a military parade suddenly jump out of their vehicle and attack the president and his entourage, spraying machine gun fire and hurling grenades. With the crowd distracted by an aerial display of Egyptian fighter jets, the president's grandstand is reduced to a shambles of dead and wounded before stunned bodyguards react. Sadat is rushed to a hospital and dies; eight others in the reviewing stand are also killed.

    Grandstand attacked:
    1.2M QuickTime Movie (160x120) 2.7M QuickTime Movie (320x240)

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