Thursday, June 05, 2008

Robert F. Kennedy



Forty years ago tomorrow Robert F. Kennedy was assassinated in the kitchen of the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles, California. I remember where I was when I heard the unbelievable news. I was working as a campaign worker for the RFK campaign in center city Philadelphia. His was the first and last political campaign I ever worked for. It was unusual for me to be working for a political campaign, let alone a Democratic candidate. I was a registered Republican and worked at Girard Bank, which was right across the street from the Kennedy Philadelphia campaign headquarters. Back in the Sixties, working at a large conservative Philadelphia bank, to volunteer for a Democratic candidate was not the normal thing for a bank employee to do. I talked my good friend Alice into also volunteering her time to work with me on the Kennedy campaign for president. I became a Kennedy supporter after I saw the Kennedy Magic up close during a motorcade he had been in some weeks before down Chesnut Street. Alice and I work on the fourth floor offices of Girard Bank located at the corner of Chesnut and Broad Street in center city Philadelphia. We had seen many political candidates parade and hold rallies near our bank. However, when the Robert F. Kennedy motorcade went down Chesnut Street, we witnessed something we had never seen before, pure magic. The hysteria, and unbridled joy of hope that here was a man to continue the Kennedy legacy and bring an end to the war in Vietnam. While I disliked the Vietnam protesters as much as anyone else, I did not believe in the continuation of the war in Vietnam. Why were we there? The Domino Theory? Our involvement in this war just didn't make sense to me. What also didn't make sense was the unending slaughter of our best and brightest. Today, forty years later, we are in much the same situation as we were forty years ago. We're in a war for which there is no clear reason. Our best and brightest are being killed and maimed for life. For what reason? To spread democracy? Or are we there to save face for a failed presidency? George Bush and Lyndon Johnson both got their presidencies mired in quagmire of a war that could not be won. They both appear to value saving face more than the lives of innocent Americans and the unfortunate civilians of the country that they chose to have war. Forty years later, we again have a young man on the horizon who is offering new hope for a way out of the mess we're in now. Like Bobby Kennedy, Barrack Obama is accused of lacking experience and is being demonized by those who oppose him. Like Bobby Kennedy, Barrack Obama's goal is to bring all of us together. To listen to Barrack Obama, I again feel that liberating feeling throughout my body when I first felt when I heard Bobby Kennedy speak. Like Bobby Kennedy, Barrack hits all the marks. What he says seems so right. To see in those crowds, the impossibly wide smiling faces of young people that greet Barrack Obama, I am again reminded of that day on Chesnut Street when I saw Bobby Kennedy mobbed by adoring throngs, grasping at his legs, standing on top of a car that slowly made it's way down Chesnut Street clogged with cheering admirers. Never had I experienced that feeling before in my life. That image of him, his legs being held steady by aids, as he attempted to bend and shake the hands of the adoring throngs, is forever seared in my memory. I've never seen anything like that until now. While I have not personally been to one of Barrack Obama's rallies, what I see on TV reminds me of the pure, unbridled joy that so many, young and old, are experiencing again. It is called hope. It is time for a change. When I renewed this blog some months ago with a new focus, "Retired In Delaware", I intentionally left politics out of it. However, I can't let this moment go by. Forty years ago we had the opportunity to change for a better life. We lost that opportunity because of a deranged individual with his own agenda. Hopefully, this time, Providence will look kindly upon us and grant this country a chance to redeem itself. Remember and honor the legacy of Robert F. Kennedy. To quote the last part of Robert F. Kennedy's speech at Indianapolis on the day of Martin Luther King's assassination:

"But the vast majority of white people and the vast majority of black people in this country want to live together, want to improve the quality of our life, and want justice for all human beings that abide in our land.
"Let us dedicate ourselves to what the Greeks wrote so many years ago: to tame the savageness of man and make gentle the life of this world.
"Let us dedicate ourselves to that, and say a prayer for our country and for our people. Thank you very much."

Robert F. Kennedy, April 4, 1968, Indianapolis, Indiana

4 comments:

  1. Dear Ron: You know how I hate those word verifications you use, but I'd have typed a full page JUST TO TELL YOU WHAT A TREMENDOUS ENTRY you've made today!

    I believe RFK's spirit was working through you - the MUSIC is absolutely the most perfect choice. I was able to listen to the soft voices of ENYA - and still hear the video.

    What a wonderful tribute to Robert, and to your heart/talent - as I said on my one blog in one of my entries: "You are spiritual".

    I'm so glad we stopped at the library today so I could use their computers; we'll be heading back home tomorrow for the week-end.

    I have dental appointments on the 10th & 11th; my husband on the 12th, so we're stuck in the area for a few days.

    I got a number of e-mails on the other photo show I did that's on the http://whyilivewhereido.blogspot.com - everyone as absolutely kind and thrilled with the results.

    Just as you were thinking of our country, and RFK, so was I thinking of our country; its beauty - our troops, and the indians who once had a huge land to call home...........

    Diane

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  2. Thank you for your generous comments. This blog was truly from my heart.

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  3. Just got your e-mail so 'testing'; I don't get spam, and I leave mine open so let's hope you have the same good fortune. Again, my remarks aren't generous; just THE TRUTH. A wonderful tribute. Diane

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