Yesterday I kept thinking about Robert Kennedy, the younger brother of President John Kennedy. I was remembering having seen him speak in the spring of 1968 and how the date of his death must be coming up soon. It wasn't until last night that I saw something on the internet mentioning that yesterday was the 40th anniversary of his death, the result of being shot at the Ambassador Hotel in Las Angeles, after winning the California primary.
He came and spoke at Idaho State University, where I was a senior, that spring. I remember how very tired he looked as he took the stage, but when he began to speak he was electric. He talked about the war we were so deeply mired in and how much our country needed the voices and the energy of people just like us—young and impassioned about bringing an end to the war and to segregation and violence and bigotry. It seemed possible when he said it.
His was the last in a list of assassinations that took place over several years time, starting with John Kennedy and including Martin Luther King, Malcom X, Medgar Evers and then Bobby Kennedy. He was always referred to as "Bobby." In my memory it was a very dark time after his death. It seemed that hope and optimism had truly died. Richard Nixon was elected in the fall.
A year later I found myself attending a convention at the Ambassador Hotel. Standing in the very ballroom where the shooting took place. The hotel was lovely. The grounds were lush and exotic. I learned that F. Scott Fitzgerald had lived, for a period, in one of the hotel's bungalows. I wonder, though, if the hotel ever recovered from the aura of sadness that I felt there in 1969. It was demolished in 2006.