I usually try to come up with some sort of catchy or witty title.
This story breaks my heart so much, I just couldn’t.
45 years ago today, a 33 year old Marine and Vietnam Veteran saved the life of the President of the United States. He should be a well known hero, but he is not.
President Gerald Ford was visiting San Francisco on September 22, 1975 when a woman named Sarah Jane Moore fired a gun at him. It was the second attempt to kill the President in 17 days.
Fortunately, she missed. When she was about to take the second shot, Vietnam Veteran Oliver Sipple lunged forward to knock the gun out of her hand. The President was pushed into his limousine unharmed.
Why don’t people know about this?
Because of who Oliver Sipple loved.
When the media began to investigate, they found out that this should be hero was gay.
White House advisors told the President to minimize the attention given to this event, as they did not want the story to be that the President’s life was saved by a gay marine.
Much later, the President did finally send Sipple a note of thanks.
Even worse, Mr. Sipple’s family did not know he was gay.
They disowned him. His mother never spoke to him again. His father instructed his seven brothers and sisters to “pretend that they did not have a brother named Oliver.”
Oliver would later say that he had very little contact with any of them for the rest of his life.
He suffered from alcoholism and depression. He told friends that he wished he would have “just let her fire the shot.”
He was found dead at his desk at his apartment in 1989 with a bottle of Jack Daniels next to him. The Coroner said that he had probably been dead for ten days.
The note of thanks from the President was hung above the desk.
I hope we all want to live in an America where the heroes are just heroes, regardless of what they look like, how they worship, or who they love.
Please understand that this story is a part of our not too distant past, and we all need to work towards a better America in the future.
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