Forty years after his assassination, Robert F. Kennedy is being honored in New York for his life of service — even as a prophecy he made in the months before his death comes true.
The Triborough Bridge, which connects the New York boroughs of the Bronx, Manhattan and Queens, was renamed during a ceremony Wednesday after the New York senator, who was gunned down in a Los Angeles hotel pantry on the night he won the 1968 California Democratic primary. The bridge was completed in 1936, when Kennedy was 10 years old.
Dignitaries, politicians and family members gathered by the newly christened RFK Bridge to celebrate his life and his contribution to the civil rights movement.
"I was just another college kid who got to watch Robert Kennedy work in the Senate and feel his passion and emotion," said former President Bill Clinton, who attended the ceremony.
RFK, who served as U.S. attorney general in the administration of his brother, President John F. Kennedy, would have turned 83 Thursday. But the timing was significant for another reason, said his daughter, Kerry Kennedy.
"In 1968, he said in 40 years we could have an African-American president. And sure enough, exactly 40 years later, we do, and that is why this bridge really bridges 1968 to 2008," she said.
The ceremony touched an emotional nerve with many present, including New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, New York Gov. David Paterson and RFK's widow, Ethel Kennedy.
"I am over the moon," she said. "I am walking on air."
Bobby Kennedy was born in Massachusetts — where his younger brother, Ted Kennedy, is still a senator — but he was raised in New York. He was elected to the U.S. Senate in 1964 and was running for the Democratic presidential nomination when he was killed in 1968.
Kennedy's assassin, Sirhan Sirhan, remains imprisoned in California.