Pete Hamill Remembers Robert F. Kennedy

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Pete Hamill David Shankbone hide caption

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Pete Hamill

Pete Hamill

David Shankbone

Journalist Pete Hamill was friends with Robert F. Kennedy, helped persuade him to run for president, worked briefly for the campaign and then wrote about it. And he was with Kennedy when the candidate was assassinated by a gunman at Los Angeles' Ambassador Hotel.

Kennedy died 40 years ago today; it was his murder that prompted the Secret Service to offer protection to presidential candidates.

Pete Hamill has written an essay for the book A Time It Was: Bobby Kennedy in the Sixties, a collection of photographs by Bill Eppridge, who followed Kennedy's campaign and was also there the night Kennedy was killed.

A Brief Snapshot of Robert F. Kennedy's Life

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Sen. Robert F. Kennedy speaking to student supporters at the University of Nebraska during his presidential campaign tour. Art Shay/Time Life Pictures/Getty Images hide caption

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Sen. Kennedy

Sen. Robert F. Kennedy speaking to student supporters at the University of Nebraska during his presidential campaign tour.

Art Shay/Time Life Pictures/Getty Images

RFK - In His Own Words

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Robert Francis Kennedy

(Nov. 20, 1925 – June 6, 1968)

Milton Academy, Harvard University, University of Virginia School of Law

U.S. Counsel (1953-1960)
Robert Kennedy joins the Senate Subcommittee on Investigations in 1953 under the tutelage of Sen. Joseph McCarthy. He eventually resigns from the committee over disagreements with Senator McCarthy's anti-communist campaign against federal officials. Once McCarthy is deposed from office in 1954, Kennedy rejoins the committee as chief counsel and director. He goes on to lead aggressive campaigns against union corruption and organized crime, and successfully prosecutes famed union leader James R. "Jimmy" Hoffa.

The Kennedy Campaign (1960)
Robert Kennedy leaves the Senate subcommittee to manage his brother John Fitzgerald Kennedy's successful bid for the presidency.

Attorney General (1961-1964)
President John Kennedy appoints Robert as attorney general, where he continues to focus on combating organized crime and racial discrimination. He becomes his brother's most trusted adviser on legislative issues ranging from civil rights to the Cuban Missile Crisis. His older brother's assassination in 1963 devastates him, and he remains in office only briefly thereafter.

Senator, New York (1964-1968)
Following a widening rift with John F. Kennedy's successor, Lyndon Johnson, Kennedy resigns from the federal cabinet in 1964. He pursues and wins the Senate seat from New York. By 1966, he becomes a vocal critic of President Johnson's domestic programs and the ongoing war in Vietnam.

The Last Campaign (1968)
After a period of speculation and doubt, Robert Kennedy launches his campaign for the presidency in March 1968. Drawing on an anti-war message and calling for racial reconciliation, Kennedy leads a whirlwind campaign across the country. He defeats opponent Eugene McCarthy in the Indiana and Nebraska primaries, but loses the Oregon primary in May.

June 5, 1968
After midnight, shortly after winning the South Dakota and California primaries and announcing " ... now it's on to Chicago," Kennedy is shot in the Ambassador Hotel by Sirhan Sirhan, a Jordanian immigrant. He dies the following day in Los Angeles.

Robert Kennedy is buried in Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Va.

Web Resources

Books Featured In This Story

A Time It Was

Bobby Kennedy in the Sixties

by Bill Eppridge, Pete Hamill, John Ellard Frook and Adrienne Aurichio

Hardcover, 190 pages | purchase

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A Time It Was
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