"Hold-Hold, still my hand.
Steady my eye, chill my heart,
And let my gun sing for the people.
Scream their anger, cleanse with their hate,
And kill this monster."
No, that isn’t the latest poem that was concocted by my daughter. Those were the words composed by Sara Jane Moore just before her failed assassination attempt on President Gerald Ford on September 22, 1975. Ford had survived another failed assassination attempt by one Lynette “Squeaky” Fromme a mere seventeen days earlier.
I don’t know who was nuttier, Fromme, a follower of Charles Manson or Moore. Here’s her resume.
For starters, she managed to go through five, that’s right five husbands! She had four kids that wound up being adopted by her parents. She tried nursing school but couldn’t quite cut the mustard and wound up dropping out. From there she was off to join the Women’s Army Corp and followed that gig up by becoming ,of all things, a CPA.
I guess her fifth marriage must have been a real bummer because she seemed to fall of the map. At the tender age of 42, she embraced the so-called “counter-culture" way of life and went underground. Apparently she didn’t go too deeply underground. The FBI managed to dig her up and in their infinite wisdom, decided she would be a prime candidate to gather information about the Patty Hearst kidnapping and the Symbionese Liberation Army.
Poor Sara. I guess she wasn’t that good of an undercover agent. She was quickly found out by her friends in the underground circles and ostracized.
What’s a poor girl gotta do to win her friends back and get a little self-esteem? How ‘bout shooting the President?
As President Ford was leaving the St. Francis Hotel in San Francisco
, Sara Jane Moore was about forty feet away. She pulled out her .38 caliber Smith & Wesson
and took aim.
Fortunately for President Ford, a bystander in the crowd by the name of Oliver Sipple saw what was about to happen and grabbed Moore’s arm just as she fired. Instead of hitting its intended target, the bullet ricocheted off a wall and slightly wounded a nearby cab driver.
She was quickly apprehended and brought to trial. At the proceedings, she never once tried to claim her innocence. As a matter of fact, she had this to say.
"There comes a point when the only way you can make a statement is to pick up a gun."
Sara Jane Moore received a life sentence. In 1979, she managed to escape prison but it was short lived. She was apprehended the next day and returned to prison.
So what became of the hero of our the story, Oliver Sipple? Naturally, the press made a big deal of his exploits and he received national attention. Surely President Ford would at least express his thanks to Mr. Sipple for possibly saving his life.
No such luck. A little digging into Mr. Sipple lifestyle revealed that he was openly gay. (Imagine that, a gay guy in San Francisco?) President Ford declined to acknowledge Mr. Sipple publicly but instead sent a two sentence letter expressing his gratitude. Mr. Sipple is a tragic story unto himself.