Robert F. Kennedy Assassinated

Published: 1968
Play Audio Archive Story - UPI
Clutching his rosary beads, Senator Robert F. Kennedy lies mortally wounded on the floor of the Ambassador Hotel, after being shot by assailant Sirhan Bashira Sirhan on June 5, 1968, following his victory speech in the California primary election. Kennedy's wife Ethel is at lower left. (UPI Photo/Files)

Unknown Speaker: "I am announcing today my candidacy of the presidency of the United States."

Announcer: After Eugene McCarthy shows strength in New Hampshire Primary, Senator Robert F. Kennedy reassessed his position and entered the 1968 race for President. The Kennedy announcement was a political surprise. But it was overshadowed 15 days later when another man informed the country of his decision regarding the presidency.

Lyndon Baines Johnson: "I do not believe that I should devote an hour or day of my time to any personal partisan causes. Accordingly, I shall not see and I will not accept the nomination of my party for another term as your President."

Announcer: Uplifted by the Johnson announcement, Robert Kennedy set out to make 1968 his most trying year. A year during which he hoped to become the next President of the United States. But a year that for him ended in death.

Unknown Speaker: "President Kennedy has been shot, is that possible? Is that possible? It's pathetic. Is that possible ladies and gentlemen. It is possible, he has. Not only Senator Kennedy, oh my God. Senator Kennedy has been shot and another man, a Kennedy Campaign Manager impossibly shot in the head. I am right here Raefer Johnson has a hold of a man who apparently has fired the shot."

Announcer: United Press International’s review of the news of 1968 will continue after this message.

Radio newsman Andrew West was covering the California Primary for the Mutual Broadcasting System. He was following Senator Kennedy out of the ballroom of the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles. The Senator exited the hotel through the kitchen, Andrew West followed. He heard the shots and instinctively turned on his tape recorder.

Andrew West: "He has still has the gun, the gun is pointed at me at this moment. I hope they can get the gun out of his hand. Be very careful! Get the gun, get the gun, get the gun. Look, stay away from the gun. Stay away from the gun. His hand is frozen. Get his thumb, Get his thumb, Get his thumb. Get the whole of his thumb and break it if you have to, get his fast. Get away from the barrel, get away from the barrel, man! That's it Raefer, get it! Get the gun Raefer. Okay, now hold on to the guy, hold on to him. Hold on, ladies and gentlemen, they have the gun away from the man. They've got the gun, I can't see, I can't see the man. I can't see who it is. Senator Kennedy right now is on the ground, he has been shot, you will not know if the Senator is dead or if he is alive."

Announcer: The next day the Senator’s Press Secretary informed the stunned nation of Kennedy’s death.

Unknown Speaker: "Senator Robert Francis Kennedy died at 1:44 AM today, June 6, 1968. He was 42-years-old."

Announcer: The streets of New York were filled with mourners. Thousands and thousands passed to touch his casket which lay in state at St. Patrick’s Cathedral. They came and they waited for hours to pay their final respect.

Unknown Speaker 1: "I feel a very deep emotion today. Mr. Kennedy was... I really can't talk, I am sorry!"

Unknown Speaker 2: "We may be in this line for quite some time, does that upset you terribly?"

Unknown Speaker 1: "Oh no, it took me up close to 14 years to become an American citizen and he was a big inspiration in it for me and my sister. I'm sorry!"

Announcer: Ted Kennedy, the last surviving son of Mr. and Mrs. Joseph Kennedy eulogized his brother.

Ted Kennedy: "Those of us who lived him and who take him to his rest today, pray that what he was to us and what he wished for others will some day come to pass through all the world. As he said many times, in many parts of this nation, to those he touched and who sought to touch him .

“'Some men see things as they are and say why. I dream things that never were and say why not.'”

Announcer: As the body of Senator Kennedy was carried out, Singer Andy Williams filled the cathedral with the sound of ahem that was relevant and stirring.

Soon the crowd of mourners joined spontaneously, and the great room was heavy with song.

And at Arlington National Cemetery, Robert Kennedy’s body was lowered into a grave and they are a few feet away a flickering yellow flame marked the grave site of is brother, the late President John Fitzgerald Kennedy whose life too was ended with an assassin’s bullet.