- The Washington Times - Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Family and friends of Robert F. Kennedy, along with thousands of other people, marked the 50th anniversary of his assassination Wednesday with a commemoration ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery.

Former Maryland Lt. Gov. Kathleen Kennedy Townsend, the eldest child of Kennedy, welcomed the audience to a memorial service at the Arlington Memorial Amphitheater that opened with songs sung by the Eastern High School Choir, American University Gospel Choir, and The Choral Arts Society of Washington.

“You share our deep sense of loss and our happy memories,” said Mrs. Townsend. “Your presence is deeply moving, and a tribute to the love that my father inspired. Thank you for remembering.”

After her remarks, several officials and activists — including House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi; House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy and Rep. John Lewis, Georgia Democrat — recited quotes from Kennedy.

Mr. Lewis began with Kennedy’s favorite poem by the Greek dramatist Aeschylus: “And even in our sleep, pain which cannot forget falls drop by drop upon the heart, until in our own despair, against our will, comes wisdom through the awful grace of God.”

The civil rights icon then recited what Kennedy said after Martin Luther King’s assassination in 1968: “What we need in the United States is not division, what we need in the United States is not hatred. But love and wisdom and compassion for one another, a feeling of justice to those who still suffer within our country, whether they be white or they be black.”

Other quotes were delivered by former Italian Premier Matteo Renzi and Emma Gonzales, a survivor of the school shooting in Parkland, Florida, in February.

“First is the danger of futility: the belief there is nothing one man or one woman can do against the enormous array of the world’s ills — against misery and ignorance, injustice and violence. Yet many of the world’s great movements, of thought and action, have flowed from the work of a single man,” Miss Gonzalez said.

Sen. Doug Jones, Alabama Democrat, and Democratic National Committee Chairman Tom Perez also attended the memorial service, which included a somber performance by country music star Kenny Chesney.

Kennedy, a former attorney general known for his efforts in advancing civil rights, was a New York senator in 1968 and had won the California presidential primary when he was gunned down June 5 at the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles. He died the next day.

A Navy veteran, he is buried at Arlington near his brother, former President John F. Kennedy.

Former President Bill Clinton delivered the keynote address at the marble amphitheater, which stands beside to the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, saying Kennedy’s words are “truer today than they were then.”

Mr. Clinton also echoed Emma Gonzalez’s message that “schools need not be a killing ground,” and that Kennedy would have said that while people have the right to arm and defend their family “we should take away the option to commit mass murder with killing machines without adequate background checks.”

Kyresha Bowman, an 18-year-old member of the Eastern High School in the District, said it was an honor to perform for the Kennedy family, a considerable number of whom attended the memorial service. A history enthusiast, she said she was “in love” with the moment and felt awe several times throughout the ceremony.

“It was just so much history in the room,” Miss Bowman said, adding that she was impressed with Mr. Clinton’s speech.

“That’s amazing to have a former president go and actually speak on your behalf even after you have passed away, and it was all good things,” she said.

This article is based in part on wire service reports.


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