Still reeling from the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. on April 4, 1968, the country experienced another trauma with the assassination of Robert F. Kennedy only two months later. On June 6, 1968, Kennedy died after being shot at the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles, having just celebrated his victory in the California Democratic presidential primary. His body lay in repose at New York’s St. Patrick’s Cathedral where, on June 8, thousands attended a funeral mass and millions watched on television.
Like many Americans, Bowling Green’s Beulah Smith wrote letters of condolence to RFK’s widow Ethel and to his brother Senator Edward Kennedy. She also expressed her sympathy to the Archbishop of Boston, Richard Cardinal Cushing, who had participated in the funeral mass but fell ill during the trip to Washington and was unable to officiate at the graveside service at Arlington National Cemetery.
“I returned from the funeral services physically exhausted and emotionally spent after a long and sad day,” Cushing recounted in his letter of acknowledgement to Beulah, a copy of which is in the Manuscripts & Folklife Archives of WKU’s Department of Library Special Collections. “It does not seem possible that a tragedy of this magnitude could have befallen the Kennedy Family once again.” Cushing praised Kennedy’s commitment to American ideals and his “special concern for the poor, the neglected, the downtrodden,” and hoped that his life would inspire all to “treat our neighbors in need with the same concern which motivated his remarkable career.”