Saturday, June 07, 2008

Bobby Kennedy

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.


  1. That must have been an amazing and exciting experience to hear Bobby speak. I'm sure he was electrifying. He was a good man, in my opinion the best of the Kennedy brothers - although I can't speak for the eldest brother Joe.

  2. Anonymous7:29 PM

    The tributes to Bobby Kennedy have been extremely moving. I've been listening to them on the radio all day.

    Those were horrifying days, weren't they? I don't know that it's consoling to remember how bad things were as we are faced with how bad things are.....


  3. That night in Pocatello still comes back to me as one of the most defining in my life. Remember, he was so late, the gym was packed and people were becoming restless. I kept wondering if it were all for naught, but he arrived and when he started to speak I was totally captivated. There have been very, very few times that I can remember specific words of a speaker or even the voice but I remember him that night in Pocatello Idaho.

    I also remember the days just a few short weeks later when that dream was also taken.

  4. interesting post, Terry. Even though I was only 14 and living across the world, with conservative parents, who, had they been American, would probably be very right wing Republicans (aaack) I remember his death, and feeling sad about it. I have had a quote of his on my sidebar for ages, because it is still so apt (in fact visionary), and if only it was applied around the world, so many places would be better to live in!