fifty years ago

I want to acknowledge that today is D-Day. That’s important to remember. It is especially on my mind this year as I am reading a book on the literary and art scene in Paris between 1940 and 1950. It was not long after D-Day that Paris was liberated, though the war would go on for another year. But more on that down the line.

Robert KennedyWhat is on my mind today is what happened fifty years ago. On June 6, 1968 Robert Kennedy died. He was shot in the early morning hours of June 5 after declaring victory in the June 4 California presidential primary. I had a paper route in those days, and as Don McLean sang about how he and his paper route intersected with events in the larger world, so did I and mine.

On Wednesday June 5 I got up, as I always did in those days, at 5:00 a.m. to fold my papers and I was not completely awake. The assassination was late enough that it was past the deadline for the main front page news story, but still early enough that the editors could pull out the promotional material above the masthead and replace it with a large headline: “Kennedy Shot” and a few paragraphs about what was known at the time. Below the masthead was a headline that reflected Kennedy’s victory in the California primary. It was very disorienting and it took me a little while to process what had happened.

I have a hard time believing that it has been fifty years. It has been though. And it was one of those events that changed the course of American society.



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