Thursday, June 5, 2008
Anybody here, see my old friend Bobby?
That evening, an otherwise routine mid-week school night, I was home alone. I turned on the TV around 9:00 PM to one of three channels we received up on Crow Hill (the Irish part of Amherst) and live from California, my hero, Bobby Kennedy was giving a desperately needed victory speech .
What I loved about Bobby is that he was not prepackaged. He once said if you really, truly believed in something then you should be able to speak from your heart without reading from a script. And that he did, ever so well.
For instance, a few months earlier, on the day Martin Luther King was assassinated, Bobby spoke (against the advice of his handlers) extemporaneously to a predominately black crowd in Indianapolis —about the only major American city that did not go up in flames that awful day—and embraced their souls.
Because indeed, he had been there.
TV news was not quite as slick back in 1968. After his exuberant speech, the live cameras kept rolling. The sights and sounds of celebration went eerily quiet...and then turned to horror. As he lay dying, a 17-year-old Hispanic busboy presses a rosary into his hand.
On the early morning he was ambushed, pre-planned security protocol called for a different exit. One aid remarked that if only he had stuck to the original route…
A more seasoned assistant observed: “But how often did he change plans at the very last second and, as a result, avoided a waiting assassin?”