On the same day as we commemorate the 74th anniversary of the heroic landing on the beaches of Normandy in World War II, we remember another momentous occasion that shook our nation to the core 50 years ago. Nearing the end of a violent decade that saw the assassinations of not only a president but also of a beloved civil rights leader, our nation was ill-prepared to face yet another tragic loss of this magnitude. But that's exactly what happened on June 6, 1968.
Five years after the assassination of John F. Kennedy in Dallas, Texas and just two short months after James Earl Ray took the life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Junior in Memphis, Tennessee, shots rang out again. This time in Los Angeles, California as the victim, a young presidential candidate, was celebrating a big win in the primary election in that pivotal state.
42-year-old Robert F. Kennedy, younger brother of John F. Kennedy, had just completed his victory speech at the Ambassador Hotel in L.A. when he was ambushed by assassin Sirhan B. Sirhan while leaving the venue through the kitchen, a route chosen at the least minute due to security concerns.
The assassin shot the New York senator in the head before being apprehended by football legend Rosie Greer, who was accompanying Kennedy as a bodyguard.
The father of 11 was rushed to the hospital but succumbed to his injuries hours later. The despicable act shook the world as we not only mourned the loss of a promising young political figure but also worried and wondered if the violence would ever end.
Now, we commemorate the grievous loss by remembering Senator Kennedy 50 years after he was taken from us. None felt the tragedy more deeply, however, than his widow, Ethel, who was pregnant with their eleventh child at the time of her husband’s death, leaving her to raise their five daughters and seven sons alone.
As political figures, family members, and close friends gathered at Arlington National Cemetary to pay tribute to the life of Robert Kennedy, speaking words of comfort and encouragement, the most poignant demonstration of love and remembrance came from a small, solitary figure who stepped out from the assemblage.
There wasn't a dry eye in the house as they witnessed the heart-rending sight of the frail, 90-year-old widow slowly making her way to the place where her husband lay.
No one will ever forget the extraordinary sight of the still-grieving Ethel as she gingerly bent down and gently laid a single rose on the final resting place of her beloved Bobby, in a touching expression of her enduring love, devotion, and grief.
Even after 50 years, Robert F. Kenndy's legacy lives on, and never more vividly demonstrated than in the unforgettable actions of his loving widow, Ethel Skakel Kennedy!
To see one of the most famous speeches ever given, when Bobby Kennedy had to announce the death of Martin Luther King, Jr., watch the video, below.
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