I was almost ten years old that April. I remember when the story came on the news. I remember worrying about my father getting home from work, because he worked across the river in Philadelphia. He made it okay, but came home very late. I remember that feeling of being afraid because my mother was afraid. I remember watching from the upstairs bedroom windows of our home, as parts of Philadelphia and Camden burned over the next few days. You could see the smoke. I remember my teacher being sad. I remember other people being angry. Even my not-so-open-minded dad was angry that they had killed Dr. King. He always thought it was a conspiracy to silence him. He turned out to be right, of course.
Bobby Kennedy would be killed later that year. I remember that, too. My mother woke me up early the next day to tell me about that. She was crying. My beloved third grade teacher, Mrs. Lamb, was taking us on a field trip that next day, to Valley Forge. She courageously held it together all day, but she cried on the bus coming home. Not hysterically, just quietly weeping. We cried, too. Because she was crying. We knew she loved Bobby Kennedy: she had a picture of him in our classroom.
1968 was an awful year. The Tet Offensive, Dr. King, Bobby, Chicago. The war was on our television screens every night. The cities burned.
I was a little kid. I knew that something was happening here, but what it was wasn’t exactly clear.
But I remember.