Times have changed for the Secret Service since the ill-fated day of November 22, 1963, when John F. Kennedy was shot. Riding in the back of a convertible is absolutely unthinkable these days, after numerous assassination attempts since JFK have made it impossible for a president, or even a candidate, to be unprotected during appearances.
When Kennedy was shot, his bodyguards were powerless to help him, according to Yahoo. There was nothing they could do. “It isn’t something that we’re marking. It wasn’t a good day for us or for the country,” Secret Service spokesman Brian Leary said. “It was a dark day.”
That “dark day” began round after round of changes in order to do the absolute most that the Secret Service could do to protect our country’s leader. It began with JFK. After his assassination, there were obviously no more convertibles. As the years went by, and Robert Kennedy was killed, followed by an attempt on President Reagan, things have become very, very different for the Secret Service.
Now, Obama rides around in a limousine-shaped fortress, called “The Beast” that is reportedly outfitted with its own oxygen supply, as well as blood transfusion supplies. Just in case. The fuel tank is sealed in foam so that it won’t explode. It’s also sealed against biological or chemical attack and the doors weigh as much as those on a Boeing 757!
“The Beast” is never alone. There can be dozens of vehicles in the presidential motorcade, and the arrangement changes all the time, depending on the Secret Services perceived threat. He could be absent from the motorcade altogether, in a helicopter above, for example.
Of course, there are times when a president just wants to step out and wave to the people, like Obama did on Inauguration day in January. A past member of the Secret Service said their “collective blood pressure spikes” during those surprise moments.
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