Bobby Kennedy, who was assassinated 40 years ago today, was an enormous, transfigurative politician in the lives of many Americans. Learning and changing radically in his views, Kennedy made the transition from Joe McCarthy goon to a tireless champion for the poor and forgotten.
His presidential candidacy, coming five years after his older brother's murder, instilled hope in a republic wounded by Vietnam and LBJ's intransigence in foreign affairs that, alas, overshadowned so much good done on the homefront in fighting the war on poverty.
RFK's murder, coming two months almost to the day after Martin Luther King, Jr. was slain, shocked the nation and loyal followers excited by the chance for change in a country mired in conflict and anger.
Bobby Kennedy was huge in our household and his death brought the second round of tears in so many months. Our entire family worked on his campaign. Only a child, I filmed a television commerical with him, set in a classroom, where I asked what he would do for the country the day after he ended the war in Vietnam.
The commercial never ran. I still have the pink Peanuts autograph book the senator signed, the page dog-eared, among names of forgotten friends. It's a souvenir I always cherished even if it is only a bit of inky sprawl on a pastel page.