Robert Francis "Bobby" Kennedy, 1925 - 1968

portrait of Robert F. Kennedy
LBJ Library photo by Yoichi R. Okamoto (28 January 1964)
Robert F. Kennedy signature

Born: 20 November 1925, Brookline, Massachusetts
Died: 6 June 1968, Los Angeles, California

Robert Francis Kennedy was the seventh child of Joseph P. Kennedy, Sr. and Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy. His brothers included President John F. Kennedy and Senator Edward Moore Kennedy. His education started in public schools at Riverdale, New York but included seventh grade at the Gibbs School for Boys at London where his father was US ambassador to England. Secondary school was at Portsmouth Priory School at Portsmouth, Rhode Island and Milton Academy at Milton, Massachusetts. He enlisted in the Navy and was assigned to the V-12 Navy College program at Harvard College but he requested release from that program to become a seaman on the destroyer named for his eldest brother. After the war he entered Harvard as Junior based on his time in the V-12 program, earning a B.A. in government in 1948. He took six months to travel in Europe but carried press credentials from the Boston Post and filed stories including four from Palestine during the last days of the British Mandate. He entered the University of Virginia Law School in 1948, married Ethel Skakel in June 1950, and got his law degree the following year. He moved to Washington City and spent most of the decade as counsel for Senate committees, although he took some time off to run brother John's 1952 Senate campaign. He left the Senate again to run John's presidential campaign, then served as Attorney General through the Kennedy administration and nine months under Lyndon Johnson. He continued to fight organized crime and the Teamsters, building on work he had done as counsel to the Senate Labor Rackets Committee, but distinguished himself by his steadfast support for civil rights. Kennedy left the cabinet to win a Senate seat in New York in 1964, then as his opposition to the Viet Nam war grew he threw his hat in the 1968 race for the presidency. After Johnson withdrew, Kennedy was running a strong campaign. After winning the California primary he addressed his supporters in the ballroom of the Ambassador Hotel at Los Angeles. Leaving the hotel through the kitchen he was shot down by Palestinian-born Sirhan Sirhan who apparently opposed Kennedy's support for Israel in the Six-Day War of the year before. He died at Good Samaritan Hospital a day later and was buried at Arlington National Cemetery. Because his funeral train from New York City and motorcade to the cemetery was delayed, his was the only night-time funeral ever at Arlington.

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