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Monday, April 22, 2013

We Will Endure

We Will Endure
Summer of 1968 was looking and feeling great.  Where were you the first week of June 1968?  I remember that week vividly, and it especially comes to mind following the tragedy that occurred in Boston last week.
The weather was typical of a hot summer day in Central California. I was very young with only my firstborn daughter, and just like there was not a cloud in the sky there wasn’t a pain in my entire body.  I felt invincible, had the world by the tail attitude.  I was driving a new Plymouth Sport Fury, and I actually challenged some muscle cars when they would pull up to me on the freeway.  Those were the days when even in a muscle car you would pull up to a full-service (gas) station, and typically asked the attendant to put a dollar’s worth in the tank.  A dollar was good for slightly more than 5 gallons of gasoline.
The country was not at peace within.  We had demonstrations against the Viet Nam War, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. had been assassinated in the first week of April the same year, and there were race riots all around the country.  Yet the political campaign seemed to offer a bit of promise for better times to come.
The days were so perfect I remember spending almost as much time at keeping my car in show room condition, clean and spotless, as I spent driving it.  In the mornings when you first walked out doors, you felt the warmth of the sun starting to build up.  By 8 in the morning the temperature was already hovering around 78 degrees, and you were looking forward to maybe a 97 degree day. Up until this time in my life I had maintained a family habit of doing any and all family shopping on Saturday at one of a handful of large department, and grocery stores.
Sometime around the last weekend of May of 1968, I remember that we arrived at one of our favorite department stores, and had to deal with the inconvenience of traffic blocks within the department store parking lot.  I could see that there was a large stage at one end of the parking lot, and something was about to get underway.  My thought was that maybe I could get the shopping done, and leave before the event ended so that I wouldn’t get caught in traffic.
As I was exiting the store I could tell that the gathering was a campaign stop for Robert Kennedy, and the crowd was overflowing the perimeters that had been set up to contain the crowd.  When I finally reached my car, and after empting the contents of the shopping cart into the trunk of the car, I snaked my way around the parking lot looking for a quick exit.  I could hear the familiar voice of the Kennedy brothers over the loudspeakers addressing the crowd.
I made a comment that was natural because of the obvious danger to the candidate.  I said I can’t believe that no one is at the back of the parking lot monitoring the traffic moving around.  I could have been an evil person with a sniper’s rifle and minimally taken a shot at the candidate that was so exposed standing on stage addressing the crowd.
Approximately two weeks later on June 5th 1968 for the second time in my life I was brought to tears (by news of a Kennedy assassination) when I heard on the radio that Senator Robert F. Kennedy had been shot just past midnight in Los Angeles as he addressed campaign workers.  Senator Robert F. Kennedy died 26 hours later at the Good Samaritan Hospital.  All of a sudden the bright spot in the horizon for the country, wasn’t so bright after all.  Since 1968 we have had many other events that gave us reason to give up hope!  We all know and have come to expect that the American Spirit may get knocked down but never out, and we always bounce back more determined than ever to take back what is rightfully ours.  We have proven it time and again, and we are in the process of proving it one more time since last week.  The best is yet to come…

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