U.S. presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy is shot at the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles, California by Palestinian Sirhan Sirhan. Kennedy dies the next day
On June 4, 1968, Robert F. Kennedy scored a major victory when he won the California primary. He addressed his supporters in the early morning hours of 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, FBI agent Bill Barry. In a crowded kitchen passageway, Sirhan Bishara Sirhan, a 24-year-old Palestinian, opened fire with a .22 caliber revolver and shot Kennedy from the front and no closer than 2 1/2 feet according to many witnesses on Sirhan's location, although the fatal shot was only an inch or two from the back of his head just behind his right ear. Following the shooting, Kennedy was rushed to The Good Samaritan Hospital where he died early the next morning.
His body was returned to New York City, where it lay in state at St. Patrick's Cathedral for several days before the funeral Mass held there. His brother, Senator Ted Kennedy, eulogized him with the words, "My brother need not be idealized or enlarged in death beyond what he was in life, to be remembered simply as a good and decent man, who saw wrong and tried to right it, saw suffering and tried to heal it, saw war and tried to stop it."
Senator Kennedy also added, "Those of us who loved him and who take him to his rest today, pray that what he was to us and what he wished for others will some day come to pass through all the world."
Senator Kennedy concluded his eulogy, paraphrasing his deceased brother Robert by quoting George Bernard Shaw: "As he said many times, in many parts of this nation, to those he touched and who sought to touch him, some men see things as they are and say 'Why?' I dream things that never were and say, 'Why not?'" During Kennedy's 1968 campaign, he would often quote Shaw's words.
The Mass concluded with the performance of a hymn, ""Battle Hymn of the Republic" by singer Andy Williams. Immediately following the Mass, Kennedy's body was transported by special train to Washington, D.C. Thousands of mourners lined the tracks and stations, paying their respects as the train passed by.
Kennedy was buried near his brother, John, in Arlington National Cemetery. He had always maintained that he wished to be buried in Massachusetts, but his family believed that, since the brothers had been so close in life, they should be near each other in death. In accordance with his wishes, Kennedy was buried with the bare minimum military escort and ceremony. Robert Kennedy's burial at Arlington National Cemetery was the only one to ever take place at night.
After the assassination, the mandate of the Secret Service was altered to include protection of presidential candidates.