Tuesday, June 5, 2018

50: RFK

Robert Kennedy was murdered 50 years ago today.

While I don't remember the Martin Luther King, Jr. assassination in April of 1968, I vividly remember the Kennedy killing, even though it was only a couple of months later.  Let me back up for a moment, I strongly recall the riots that followed Dr. King's death, but I have no memory of the shooting that started it all.

The RFK murder was a little different, and let me explain.  It was ritual in my house growing up.  CBS Morning News at 7:00 AM, Captain Kangaroo at 8.  Every day.  No exception.

Kennedy was shot after winning the California primary, so the news was fresh-- and frightening in the morning.  When you're young, you frequently view events through the eyes of,  and the reaction of, your parents.  My parents were Kennedy people.  I remember them speaking of the sadness that gripped the country after the JFK assassination.  I could see they were upset by what was unfolding in California on that early summer morning.

History showed us the Kennedy campaign was gaining steam in 1968.  While Eugene McCarthy was a strong anti Vietnam was candidate, Kennedy was increasingly seen as having the best chance of beating Nixon and quickly ending the war.  I can understand my parents concern.  My brother was approaching draft age, and by 1968, just about everyone had seen what an unmitigated disaster Vietnam had become.  By the way, I shouldn't sell Nixon short here.  The United States withdrew troops during Nixon's term.  The official end came when the North overran the South, and that was on President Ford's watch.

There was always Hubert Humphrey, by most accounts a fair and decent man.  When the dust settled in Chicago, Humphrey had the Democratic nomination.  However, no one could electrify like RFK.

Bobby Kennedy remains a fascinating character.  He clearly had flaws-- personally and politically.  His charm and charisma overcame those.  I'm so sorry Dr. Tony Mussari from King's College and former Scranton Mayor Jim McNulty are no longer with us.  I'd love to talk to them about 1968.  Both were very politically active at the time.

If you get the chance, check out RFK assassination coverage from the big networks on YouTube.  It's amazing how well they covered the mayhem that night and morning with equipment that is so primitive by today's standards.

In recent days, RFK, Jr. has gone public with his thoughts that more than one gunman was responsible for his father's murder.  He claims there is physical evidence to back it up.  I don't know.  Kennedy was shot in a crowded hotel passageway.  I can't believe there was a second gunman, and no one saw him.