Fifty years ago, Robert F. Kennedy came to Nebraska. He was touring the southeastern part of the state during his 1968 presidential campaign.
Laureen Riedesul, Beatrice Public Library Director, says Kennedy had to make his way through a crowd of about 3,000 people, to speak on a platform.
“Talking about security, the idea that, at the time, we still didn’t see ourselves as people who were dangerous to each other,” Riedesul tells Nebraska Radio Network affiliate KWBE in Beatrice.
A plaque in Charles Park commemorates the visit.
Riedesul says he also stopped at what is now the Beatrice State Developmental Center.
“And that was spontaneous,” she says. “When he found out about that institution in the community, because of his sister, Rosemary, he did want to visit. So, with very little warning, the people there got ready for this visit.”
Steve Hovendick was about nine years old at the time. He says he remembers being there with his father, who was putting up the sound system.
“I really think it was engrained in my memory because of what happened a month later when he was assassinated,” Hovendick says. “It was a big deal, yeah, but I was a little kid, so I didn’t know the political thing of it, but it was 3,000 people.”
Kennedy won the Nebraska Democratic Primary with a little more than 51 percent of the vote.
He was fatally shot June 5 in Los Angeles, CA.
Doug Kennedy, KWBE in Beatrice, contributed to this report.