50 years ago today, Robert F. Kennedy was assassinated. He was a Senator and a candidate for the Democratic nomination for the U. S. Presidency. The 1960s, and especially 1968, were a time of great turmoil in our country and the world. Robert Kennedy was a man who had grown into a compassionate and powerful liberal figure, one who offered hope to a divided country in despair.
RFK had won the primary in California and seemed poised to win the nomination, which would have made him a powerful candidate to become President. Then his life was brutally ended, and the country lost possibilities.
Like his brother, President John F. Kennedy and the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., he would be killed, and America would lose great potential for change and decency. I was a young teenager when this happened, and I remember feeling a terrible sense of loss and grief. As I grew older, I would realize just what the country lost.
I end with a quotation from his campaign, which was based on the earlier quotation from George Bernard Shaw. In his speech at the University of Kansas
March 18, 1968 RFK said:
“George Bernard Shaw once wrote,
‘Some people see things as they are and say why? I
dream things that never were and say, why not?'”
(Robert F. Kennedy)
Senator Ted Kennedy spoke of his brother at his funeral and said,
“My brother need not be idealized, or enlarged in death beyond what he was in life; to be remembered simply as a good and decent man, who saw wrong and tried to right it, saw suffering and tried to heal it, saw war and tried to stop it.” (Edward Kennedy)
I hope we, as a nation, can remember Robert F. Kennedy’s sense of optimism and justice and that we move towards a just and inclusive society. We must think of what might be.
“Edward M. Kennedy Address at the Public Memorial Service for Robert F. Kennedy.”
American Rhetoric Top 100 Speeches. Online. http://www.americanrhetoric.com
“Robert F. Kennedy Speeches Remarks at the University of Kansas, March 18, 1968.” John
F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum. Online. https://www.jfklibrary.org