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Robert f. Kennedy

Goleta Surfing apologizes for the lack of surf photos on this page, but now and then
we come across some historic local photos we can’t help but share.

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May 28th, 1968. 45 years ago.
Robert F. Kennedy was in the thick of an intense political campaign for the Presidency.
Later this same day, he would lose the Oregon democratic primary to Eugene McCarthy,
but he knew if he could win California, that could knock McCarthy out of the race.

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So he made a brief appearance at the beautiful Santa Barbara courthouse
to try and rally support.

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Kennedy’s platform focused on racial and economic justice, non-aggression in foreign
policy and social improvement. He emphasized an engagement with the youth, whom he
identified as being the future of an American society based on partnership and equality.

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He and McCarthy were both against the war in Viet Nam,
so the anti-war movement was split between the two candidates.

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A sizeable crowd turned out, but as you can see,
there were many McCarthy supporters in attendance as well.

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Kennedy’s campaign hoped to knock McCarthy out of the race and that would leave him in a
one-on-one against Vice President Hubert Humphrey at the Chicago national convention in August.

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One blogger recently remembered this day:
” I liked RFK, so I walked out the back door and across the parking lot to Anacapa St.
I could look down a half block towards the courthouse and see the big crowds gathered there.
The street was deserted where I stood. I assumed Kennedy was already down there but a
moment later I looked back up the street in the other direction and saw the motorcade
approaching very slowly. Bobby and his wife were sitting up on the back seat of a convertible
and they had a beautiful golden retriever with them.  As they passed not more than twenty feet
from me it was very quiet and he looked straight at me, gave me the big smile and said, “Hi,
there!” and I said hi right back to him and his wife smiled.
There was no one else around and it felt like a very personal encounter.”

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Kennedy’s wife Ethel was also there, supporting her husband’s bid for the White House.
They lived with their ten children in an enormous 13-bedroom, 13-bath home nicknamed
Hickory Hill, on six acres in McLean, Virginia.

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The couple had bought the home from Robert’s brother Jack in 1956,
and the media thrived on reports of their wild parties with impressive
guest lists full of celebrities such as John Lennon and Judy Garland.

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Believe it or not, Goleta Surfing was there on this day. I was five years old but I still have
some faded memories of it. My mom, Helen Modugno,was a huge fan of John F. Kennedy
and she was sure Bobby would be the next President.
She remembers ,” We were waiting for quite a while for him to appear. When he came
out, he greeted the crowd and made a very short speech. I was a was a little
disappointed, but I guess he was tired from campaigning so much.”

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A few days later, Robert F. Kennedy won the California primary. He spoke to his
supporters shortly after midnight on June 5, 1968, in a ballroom at The Ambassador
Hotel in Los Angeles.  Leaving the ballroom, he went through the hotel kitchen after being
told it was a shortcut, despite being advised to avoid the kitchen by his bodyguard.

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As he passed through a crowded hallway, Sirhan Sirhan, a 24-year-old Palestinian,
opened fire with a .22-caliber revolver. Former professional football player Rosey Grier
was among the men that were credited with wrestling Sirhan Sirhan to the ground.
Kennedy was rushed to the Hospital where he died early the next morning. Sirhan said
that he felt betrayed by Kennedy’s support for Israel in the June 1967 Six-Day War, which
had begun exactly one year before the assassination.

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Helen Modugno remembers,” We saw it all on TV. I thought they could save him, but it
was not meant  to be, so again our hearts were broken. Such a loss. How different
our country’s history could have been if he had become our President.
Sad, even now, to think of it.”