Last Saturday, after 42 years, on November 20, 2010,
Juan Romero made the pilgrimage to Arlington Cemetery
on what would have been RFK's 85th birthday.
He told Bobby Kennedy how much he admired him,
how much he had meant to him --
and then he walked away a different person.

Last week was the 47th anniversary of the murder of JFK on November 22nd, 1963.

It was also the 85th birthday of JFK's brother Bobby (if he hadn't been murdered too) on November 20, 1925.

And also it was the 50th birthday of JFK's son John-John (if he hadn't also been murdered) on November 25th, 1960.

Just two days before his death, JFK made a personal sacrifice for "we the people" in that instead of attending Bobby's big birthday bash on the Wednesday (where they were greatly missed), he and Jackie stayed home at the White House because they wanted to be well-rested for their trip the next day (departing on Thursday) to Texas.

JFK'S LAST FULL DAY IN TEXAS (...The night before leaving for Texas JFK and Jackie stayed home after hosting a reception in the East Room for the Supreme Court judges and staff from the Justice Department. Afterwards there was a 38th-birthday party for JFK's brother Bobby at his home in Hickory Hill but JFK and Jackie didn't go because JFK wanted her to rest up for the trip which he knew would be gruelling. JFK was so happy about Jackie accompanying him to Texas that in the previous week he'd even helped her pick out the clothes she'd wear - so good did he want her to look and so proud of her was he....)

On Thursday morning, when Jackie and JFK boarded Air Force One to fly to Texas, John-John, as usual, had accompanied them in the helicopter from the White House lawn in Washington, DC to Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland where the BIG PLANE took off from. That day, as always, John-John cried when JFK told him he wasn't coming on the trip with him. A typical scene had been captured on film that previous summer. See JFK & JOHN-JOHN BOARD AIR FORCE ONE

JFK BkFamily    JohnJohn Helicopter

John Kennedy, Jr was obsessed with helicopters and airplanes as a little child, so much so that he was nicknamed "Helicopter Head" by his family. He cried whenever one left the White House grounds and he was not on it. At Camp David, however, he looked and listened overhead for the anticipated arrival of one with his father, shouting, "Chopper! Chopper!" as it came into view. When it landed he ran up to enter. He often went to play in the copter by himself. One weekend, while it was parked at Camp David, he dragged his father down to it and they sat beside each other with helmets on, making an imaginary flight. Photos: October 11, 1962 (crying): March 31, 1963 (climbing in, and at pilot seat).

But all those other times, Daddy had come home and always it was big excitement for John-John and Caroline to run and meet him as his "chopper chopper" landed. But this time the helicopter never returned, and neither did JFK - having been shot dead in Dallas. The world well remembers the most famous of the famous photos of JFK's funeral:

John-John Salute

It was John-John's 3rd birthday and yet, there he was, standing straight and solemn like a soldier honouring his Commander-In-Chief. See JOHN-JOHN SALUTING THE COFFIN OF HIS FATHER

Then five years after losing his father to an assassin's bullet, John-John lost his uncle Bobby in the same way. His mother, Jackie, had worried such a thing would happen if RFK decided to run for President. She'd said: "Do you know what I think will happen to Bobby? The same thing that happened to Jack."

November is a poignant month for America, with happy occasions like Thanksgiving and the birthdays of Bobby and John-John - shattered by the saddest of occasions - the death of President John Fitzgerald Kennedy.

Let's pray to God we never forget the days that JFK, Bobby and John-John died. But also, it's good to remember their birthdays.

All the best,
Jackie Jura


Haunted by Bobby's Murder
by Joe O'Connor, National Post, Nov 29, 2010

Juan Romero knelt before the grave in Arlington National Cemetery last Saturday morning, and as he did, his mind began to race. Memories flooded back, snapshots from another time, another place.

He could see Bobby Kennedy giving that famous speech, talking about love, compassion and understanding, offering a nation healing words after Martin Luther King Jr. had been gunned down in Memphis. He could see Bobby Kennedy walking side by side with Cesar Chavez, the Mexican-American labour leader. And he could remember the first time he shook his hand at the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles. It was early June 1968.

The Democratic primaries were in full swing. Robert F. Kennedy, the Senator from New York, the presidential hopeful, the civil rights activist and champion of the poor -- was hungry -- and sitting by a window in the presidential suite. He was holding the phone in his left hand and holding the curtain aside with his right. "There was a glow on him," Juan Romero says. "The light was reflecting off the windows and it was almost angelic. It might sound corny. I know it does. Maybe that's just what my eyes wanted to see. "He turned around, waved us in -- and he chuckled." Perhaps he laughed because Mr. Romero was frozen. Awestruck. He was 17, a busboy at the Ambassador, but also a Mexican-born kid from the projects of East L.A., a gang-ridden hell where you were taught to hate the cops, hate the government, hate the white man. And yet here was Bobby Kennedy, his hero, a white man he admired, loved, because he never talked about hate. He spoke about Mexicans, black and white, rich and poor, as being the same, as being Americans.

It was a small order from room service, maybe two dinners. Mr. Romero had bribed his fellow busboy so he could help deliver it. He flipped up the wings of the table. The senator thanked him, took his hand in both of his and gave it a firm shake. Mr. Romero left the room a different person than from when he had gone in. He was 10 feet tall, a giant, a man -- an equal. Two nights later, Bobby Kennedy won the California primary.

The busboy heard a commotion in the kitchen, and dashed through to the pantry to shake the winner's hand as he headed to the ballroom to deliver a victory speech. The skinny teenager snaked his way back to the front of the crowd, hoping to shake his hero's hand a third time as he passed back through the kitchen. And he was shaking it, right when an assassin's bullet ripped into Bobby Kennedy's body and he collapsed to the floor.

"I heard an ugly sound," Mr. Romero says. "The senator was on the floor. One leg was shaking. Nobody seemed to help him. I first thought that somebody had pushed him down to take him out of harm's way, and that he had hit his head on concrete and was knocked out, because his eyes were open and his left leg was twitching. "So I went over and put my hand underneath his head to separate it from the cold floor. I tried to make eye contact with him, to see if he would tell me or indicate what he wanted me to do. "I put my head down to see if I could hear him. All I heard was: 'Everything is going to be all right. Is everybody OK?' "I put my hand a little lower and then I felt the warm rush of blood coming from his head and that's when I...." And that is when Juan Romero takes a deep breath and stops talking. His voice is inaudible before gathering strength. He called out for help, stood back when Bobby's wife Ethel appeared, and then pressed his rosary beads into the dying man's hands.

Mr. Romero was a haunted man when he left the kitchen that night. A week later, he began receiving letters. Sacks full of them, mostly expressing support for him, some containing rosary beads and a few expressing something else. "One blamed me for making him stop in that moment to shake my hand," he says. "It blamed me and I took that to heart." His head swam. What if he really was partially responsible for the tragic moment? What if he had been watching out for the killer instead of waiting to shake the politician's hand? What if he had been able to take the bullet for him and save his life? For years, Mr. Romero could not talk about the shooting. In his quietest moments, the tears would fall in curtains and he would rage against God, blaming him for letting it happen. Juan Romero made a promise, a promise to Bobby Kennedy: that some day, one day, he would go to Arlington to kneel beside his grave. Say a prayer. Say everything that needed to be said, and maybe then finally find some peace.

The 60-year-old construction worker has lived a good life in San Jose, California. He has three daughters, a son, and a grandson. He loves his country. Last Saturday, after 42 years, he made the pilgrimage to Arlington on what would have been RFK's 85th birthday. Mr. Romero put on a suit for the first time in his life. He told Bobby Kennedy how much he admired him, how much he had meant to him -- and then he walked away a different person. "It might sound corny, or hokey, or whatever," he says. "But when I was flying home, as close as I ever might be to the heavens, I saw a great, great big river. There were big fluffy clouds and a blue sky. "And it reminded me of Bobby's words that night, it reminded me of: 'Everything is going to be all right.' "And that felt good."

Haunted by Bobby's murder, National Post, Nov 29, 2010






Jackie Jura
~ an independent researcher monitoring local, national and international events ~

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