If, like me, you have been fascinated by the work done by the United States Secret Service, you will thoroughly enjoy “In The Secret Service” by Jerry Parr, the man who has, as they say these days, been there and done that. He was part of President Reagen’s Secret Service detail when in 1981 John Hinckley Jr made his attempt to assassinate the President of the United States as he left the Hilton Hotel in New York only three months after he had been sworn in as the President.
No President had been assassinated after Lee Harvey Oswald shot JKF way back in Dallas, Texas way back in 1963. Parr recalls that assassination and how it affected the people most responsible for the personal safety of the President of the United States. He had joined the Secret Service in 1962 and made a career there till his retirement in 1985.
The story has a prophetic ring about it when Parr confesses that his decision to join the Secret Service was triggered when he saw the movie, “The Code of the Secret Service” as a kid in 1939. In this movie, Ronald Reagen played the role of a secret agent. That Parr himself would become a Secret Service Agent in the Presidential detail years later or that Ronald Reagen would become the President of the United States was at that time, far into the future which no one could have predicted.
The story is not only about the Secret Service but also about the men and women who make up the force. It speaks of the years of toil, of dedication and of patriotism which makes men and women put their own lives at risk to carry out their duties to protect the Chief Executive of the United States. Not all the Presidents have taken kindly to measures recommended by the Secret Service. They have had differing attitudes to the men assigned to protect them. Yet these men, like Parr, continued to do their work with utmost dedication.
The book highlights how sharpening of skills involves days and months of routine when nothing untoward happens perhaps only because of the ceaseless vigil by the Secret Service. The work does have periods of monotony but these agents cannot afford to take any chances as they are committed to guard the high-profile people they protect, come what may.
This is an interesting book with a lot of detail on what it means to be a Secret Agent and what the Service does to carry out its onerous responsibilities owing allegiance to the President in office.