Forty-five Years Ago Today: Robert F. Kennedy by Mae Clair

If you’ve followed my blog for any length of time, you probably know there are a few things I’m passionate about:

  1. Writing
  2. Reading
  3. Myth and urban legends
  4. The fictional characters of Aloyisius Pendergast and Gerald Tarrant
  5. Robert F. Kennedy

It’s the last of these I want to reference today.

There is some small part of me that remembers seeing a newsreel of Sirhan Sirhan shoot Bobby Kennedy in the Ambassador Hotel shortly after midnight on June 5, 1968. Has it really been forty-five years since that fateful day?

I was much too young to understand what had taken place, but there is a strange clip of the event in my head, as if captured on an old grainy black and white TV.

I wasn’t a child of the 60s. I didn’t understand the upheaval taking place in the nation at the time, or even the enormity of the tragedy coming only two months after Martin Luther King was assassinated and almost five years after the murder of JFK. I can’t imagine the sadness, the depth of senseless loss our nation must have felt.


Photo By Leffler, Warren K. [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

There are those who say Bobby Kennedy would have taken the White House had he lived. Certainly, he had the momentum to carry him after winning the California primary. It was after giving his victory speech following the primary that his life came to a tragic end. Forty-five years ago today he made the fatal mistake of detouring through the hotel kitchen when leaving the ballroom. Sirhan Sirhan stepped into the crowd of bodyguards, FBI, well-wishers and campaign aides and opened fire with a 22-caliber revolver, hitting the Senator three times. He was forty-two years old.

I never gave Robert Kennedy much thought until after seeing a movie about him in 2002 called RFK. I’m not even sure what made me watch it as I normally don’t care for biographies or movies with a political slant. The moment I saw it, I knew I had to learn more about the man. Maybe it was the performance of the actor – certainly that played a part – but I found my heart engaged by the conflict and crushing weight RFK carried, especially after John F. Kennedy’s assassination. This wasn’t just a president who’d been assassinated, but his brother, his closest family member, staunchest ally and loyal friend.


By LBJ Library photo by Yoichi R. Okamoto [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

I’ve since watched multiple biographies, movies, and even a miniseries or two on RFK.  I’ve lost track of the number of books I’ve read from full-blown biographies, to conspiracy theories about the Kennedy assassinations to RFK’s campaign trail in 1968.

Why the interest? I know the Kennedys were hardly saints, but I admire Bobby Kennedy’s loyalty (especially to his brother, Jack), his heartfelt desire to bring the nation together during a time when it was torn apart, and his staunch devotion to the underprivileged. Even his ruthlessness in going after organized crime figures of the day (during his tenure as Attorney General of the U.S.). He was passionate in his beliefs and relentless in pursuing them.

Which is why he made enemies. Many enemies. Including Fidel Castro, J. Edgar Hoover, Jimmy Hoffa and, if stories are true, then president Lyndon B. Johnson.

This from the man who was once viewed as a timid child by his father.

It’s with sadness and admiration that I remember Robert F. Kennedy today. I can’t help wondering what direction our country might have taken had Bobby Kennedy won the presidency in 1968. Clearly, that achievement was not meant to be. He will be forever remembered as a passionate man who died much too young and far too soon.

Rest in peace, Bobby.

21 thoughts on “Forty-five Years Ago Today: Robert F. Kennedy by Mae Clair

  1. I remember this time in history as well. Parents and school teachers talked about it at great length. And it seemed that more than not, the topic centered around the “why” of it. To this day, no one really knows… Anyway, it would be interesting to take a peek into one of those parallel dimensions, in which both men lived and see where are nation would be under their leadership. Would we be better off or worse?


    • I know. I would love to take a peek into those alternate realities. I think there is a fictional account out there about JFK surviving the assassination attempt but I don’t remember what it’s called or who wrote it. I think it would be fascinating to read something like that!


  2. I didn’t know that about Bobby. It’s usually good policy not to discuss politics. I remember that day well. I did a presentation on J. Edgar, a nasty man – what was it yesterday? Tulna? Rest in Peace: Bobby, John and Martin


    • I love that song. Bought it off Amazon not that long ago. Reading about RFK has made me learn about so much else that went on at that time…the people, the nation. It’s all riveting stuff!


    • His life was amazing, Emma. So much I could write about him, but I wouldn’t know where to stop. There are very few historical figures I REALLY admire, but RFK is one of them.


  3. RIP Bobby. I was never one to be overly fascinated with the Kennedy clan, but those two brothers did capture my attention (Of course they were gone by the time I was born). I think it may have been their relationship….the brotherly love. I’m not sure. Either way, gone too soon definitely applies to them.


    • I agree completely, Kitt. The Kennedys never intrigued me either, and I can’t say I was a fan of Jack, but I’ve learned so much about Bobby. I enjoy reading a lot of non-fiction about figures from history, but my library of books on RFK is probably my largest collection.


    • How I would love a crystal ball to show me what would have happened under their continued leadership. The world has certainly changed since then. It was indeed a fateful day!


  4. I just watched the Madmen episode with the Bobby Kennedy assassination, which had me thinking about that time and his death, and then ran into your blog (via Sheri de Gromm’s) — a serendipitously timely post. Nice tribute!


    • Hi, and thanks for dropping by. Isn’t Sheri great? 🙂

      I’ve never seen Madmen but I really would have liked to have caught that episode. I’m glad you enjoyed my small tribute to such an amazing man.


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