The lost day: How we remember, and don’t, the 26 hours after Robert F. Kennedy fell

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Lynette Ray’s mother enters her sleeping daughter’s bedroom, where last night, they sat in front of the black-and-white TV to watch coverage of the last day of the California Democratic presidential primary, and of their hero Robert Kennedy. The mother holds the morning Oregonian, which she places on the bed. The date is June 5, 1968.“Lynnie,’’ she says softly, “Bobby’s been shot.’’ Lynnie’s memories of President Kennedy’s assassination five years earlier are vivid. After the first reports from Dallas, the principal at her Catholic elementary school told everyone to get on their knees. She can still hear the prayers, and the sobs, from each classroom echoing in the hallway. She does not want Bobby to die, too. Especially not today. Today is her 11th birthday.The assassination 50 years ago of Robert F. Kennedy, junior U.S. senator from New York, produced memorable images and moments: Kennedy lying wounded on the floor of a Los Angeles hotel; his brother Ted’s eulogy at St. Patrick’s Cathedral; the huge trackside crowds as a train carried the body from New York to Washington.But the interval between RFK’s shooting and his death is all but forgotten.John F. Kennedy and Martin Luther King (shot by an assassin two months earlier) died almost immediately. Robert Kennedy lingered for almost 26 hours. Americans awoke on Wednesday to find he’d been shot and on Thursday to learn he had died.A lawyer in Fullerton, Pa., said it was like awakening not from a nightmare but into one.For almost 26 hours, much of the nation, including the presidential campaign, was in limbo.  Patrick Mazor, a high school sophomore in Ellensburg, Wash., was struck by the utter, awful silence at a special assembly in the school gym. “Not again,” he thought. “Please not again.”

 

 

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