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Steve Lopez: What if Robert Kennedy had not been assassinated?

November 24, 2010 |  9:14 am

Kneeling again next to RFK

Rigo Chacon, who arranged for his friend Juan Romero to visit the grave of Bobby Kennedy Saturday at Arlington National Cemetery, tells me Romero seems to be a changed man since the visit.

http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/.a/6a00d8341c630a53ef0133f4150cbe970b-pi"I think it made a world of difference," said Chacon, a retired TV newsman who met Romero the same way I did -- while working on a story about the busboy who tried to help Kennedy after he was mortally wounded by an assassin at the Ambassador Hotel in 1968.

Kennedy had just won the state's presidential primary. As I related in my Sunday column, Romero has been haunted by the ordeal all these years. In an instant, Kennedy's life was snuffed out just as Romero, 17 at the time, felt a sense of great hope for the country and for immigrants such as himself.

To keep Kennedy's spirit alive, Romero has been speaking up in recent years about tolerance and social justice, believing that it is his duty to do so. Still, he remained deeply troubled, and Chacon had talked him into visiting the grave to confront his ghosts. 

"I'm not a psychologist, but it seemed to be something he needed, and he was relieved and more talkative on the way home," Chacon said. Chacon runs a nonprofit called Abrazos and Books, which presents scholarships to Santa Clara County students.

The scholarships are named for inspirational local leaders, including Romero. For more information, go to Abrazosandbooks.com. Romero has often wondered what course history might have taken if there was no assassin named Sirhan Sirhan, and RFK's win in California led him, rather than Richard Nixon, to the White House.

Tell me what you think.


Kneeling again next to RFK

Framework: The assassination of Robert F. Kennedy

-- Steve Lopez

Photo: Boris Yaro / Los Angeles Times