6 June 1968

Posted: Tuesday, June 07, 2011 by Travis Cody in

Yesterday was the 43rd commemoration of the assassination of Robert F Kennedy, who was shot in the kitchen of the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles, just past midnight on 4/5 June, after finishing a speech.  Senator Kennedy had just won the 1968 California Democratic Presidential primary.  He survived through the day and died during the morning of 6 June.

It isn't clear whether Senator Kennedy would have gone on to to win the Democratic nomination for President of the United States.  It seems conceivable.  He won the California primary by 5%, but prior to that he had lost the Oregon primary and indicated he would likely drop out of the race if he lost in California.

It is clear that the Democratic Party lost momentum after the assassination.  The country was in turmoil.  Political radicalism was rampant.  Protests against the war in Vietnam were becoming increasingly more virulent and violent.

I do not know how the world would have been different.  Indeed, I cannot know if the world would have been a better place or a worse one if Senator Kennedy had survived and gone on to win the general election in November.

I believe it would have been better.  I believe Robert Kennedy had the ability to unite a country torn by vehement attitudes about Vietnam, civil rights, and a cultural divide between the Greatest Generation that won World War II and an anti-establishment generation of Baby Boomers looking to make their own way.

But I was only 4 years old in 1968.  My belief that things would have been better is washed through the eddies of the 43 years I've lived in and learned about the world since that horrible day.

In his eulogy for his brother, Edward Kennedy 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.  Those of us who loved him and who take him to his rest today, pray that what he was to us and what he wished for others will some day come to pass for all the world.

As he said many times, in many parts of this nation, to those he touched and who sought to touch him:  "Some men see things as they are and say why.  I dream things that never were and say why not".

We can all make a difference in the world.   We have the power to choose a smile over a frown, to hold a door open, to give back some of what we take.

Few will have the greatness to bend history itself; but each of us can work to change a small portion of events, and in the total of all those acts will be written the history of this generation.  (Robert Kennedy)

Robert Francis Kennedy
(20 November 1925 - 6 June 1968)


  1. It was indeed a difficult time. I had just returned home from Vietnam. I don't know if the world would have been a better place with RFK as president, but I do believe it certainly was not a better place without him. We had just lost Martin Luther King Jr. a few months earlier to an assassins bullet and JFK had been gone less than five years.
    I think we just went numb for a while after RFK's death. I think the country was wondering just what had we become as a nation, when assassination was the means for political and social change.
    The sad thing is how easily we forget about these events, even when we were the ones who live through them. Thank you for the post.

  1. To me, if someone was on the verge of great change and was assassinated, perhaps the world was not yet ready for the message he carried. However, his message still got out, and he is quoted often by those who embrace taking personal action to make the world a better place.

    So his life created enormous ripples.

  1. Marsha says:

    I remember hearing Ted give the eulogy......and how his voice cracked. It indeed was a different time.....I'm not sure he would have won either, but would it hurt us today to ask ourselves those simple questions of 'why and why not' and do our best to make this a better world.....

  1. Anonymous says:

    So many possibilities cut short.

  1. jennifer says:

    Your historical posts are always so well done - so much information and so much honor given.

  1. I was 14 and had seen him speak at a rally in the shopping center located about 200 yards from my home.

    I was just really understanding the political system in real life and not from a book. I was rebelling and enjoying life.

    As Driller said, JFK, then MLK and then within months, Bobby. It was discouraging and frustrating to see these men, who many believed were changing the world for the better, taken away.