President John F. Kennedy assassinated on November 22, 1963.
Reverand Martin Luther King assassinated on April 4, 1967.
Senator Robert F. Kennedy assassinated on June 6, 1968.
The assassination of President Kennedy was the end of my innocence. As a child growing up in the ‘50s my life was very sheltered. Politics was something men argued about the same way they argued over the Friday night fights or the last Yankees game. Back then the President of the United States was perfect and in our Irish-Catholic household John Kennedy, the first Irish-Catholic president, neared sainthood. Watching President Kennedy’s assassination replayed over and over again on the news, then watching Lee Harvey Oswald shot in front of me on live TV made me feel vulnerable out there in the world for the first time in my life and I as 17 years old.
In my memory JFK, MLK and RFK were shot one right after another. In my memory MLK and RFK were shot the spring after JFK was murdered. In reality there were years between the shootings. Maybe I remember the murders the way I do because each shooting was so traumatic to me, each shooting made me, as a citizen, feel more vulnerable.
Each of these shootings changed our political and cultural landscape, changed our world. Maybe because these assassinations shook me to the core and destroyed my innocence it feels to me as though these murders were the beginning of the long destructive road that has led to the almost casual violence we see in our world today.
All of these thoughts come to mind on this 45th Anniversary of Robert F. Kennedy’s death; rest in peace, Bobby.