911 was not the only day when I remember where I was and what I was doing. Fifty-five years ago I was in Tucson, Arizona in a motel room with my parents and my sister Betty when we heard the news that Bobby Kennedy had been shot. He lingered a little and when the official pronouncement came we had traveled north to Cottonwood, where we were staying with family friends. It was a 1968 summer trip down from Oregon to pick up my sister who had finished her freshman year at the University of Arizona. I had been excited to get out of school a week early for the trip. But the news that day was bad, especially since I had just “come of age” politically and it is one of those days i will remember for a lifetime.
It was a date of war and also progress. In 1917 conscription (draft) began in the US in 1917 as the US became involved in WWI. In 1944 more than 1,000 British bombers dropped 5,000 tons of bombs on German batteries on the Normandy coast in advance of the D-Day landings. And in 1967 the Arab-Israeli Six-Day War began. On the other hand, in 1915 Denmark beat the US by several years by amending their constitution to allow for female suffrage. And in 1916 Louis Brandeis was sworn in as an Associate Justice of the US Supreme Court, the first Jew to attain that position.
Mexican general and revolutionary Pancho Villa burst on the scene in 1878. English economist and philosopher John Maynard Keynes joined us in 1883. And Scottish nurse and WWII resistance fighter Mary Helen Young came alive in 1883 as well. This date was also the birthdate of American journalist Bill Moyers (1934), Welsh author Ken Follett (1949), saxophonist Kenny G (1956), and American producer Kathleen Kennedy, co-founder of Amblin Entertainment and worked with Steven Spielberg on ET and Jurassic Park (born 1953).
Along with Bobby those who passed on this date include American author Stephen Crane (1900, Red Badge of Courage), American short story writer O Henry (1910, Gift of the Magi), country crooner Conway Twitty (1993), former President Ronald Reagan (2004), who we thought we had lost over 20 years before when he was shot, and the great sci-fi writer Ray Bradbury (2012) of classics such as Dandelion Wine, The Martian Chronicles, and the ever to be read and understood Farenheit 451.
And starting in 1973 this day is World Environment Day
I have to leave you with a quote from Bobby Kennedy – “Some see the world as it is and ask ‘why?’. I envision the world as it could be and ask ‘why not?'”