Kansans reflect on RFK 50 years later

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In March of 1968, Robert F. Kennedy came to a rally in Manhattan shortly after announcing his candidacy for president. The rally brought thousands of people, democrats and republicans, to hear what Kennedy had to say. None of them knew he would be killed less than three months later.

That crowd would’ve walked off a cliff for him if he just asked,” said Fmr. Kansas Governor John Carlin. “He had them in the palm of his hand.”

The governor had just graduated and returned to farmwork but there was something about Kennedy he wanted to see.

“It was a combination, it was his message, how it was delivered,” he’d said.

Fans were so excited over the rally that it was reported his campaign staff had expressed concern over Kennedy’s safety.

Three months later, Kennedy was shot in Los Angeles after giving a victory speech following the California primary election. He died the next day at a nearby hospital.

At a ceremony Wednesday at Arlington National Cemetery, several people spoke including Kennedy’s daughter and grandson. But at least one of the people who attended that Kansas rally thinks back to a time when he said politics were respected and admired.

“It wasn’t a viciously partisan speech, in any way,” Carlin said. “It was coming from his heart, it was passionate. He was communicating ‘here’s where my message is.’”

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