An unlikely friendship and an end to the guilt
August 30, 2015 4:28 PM   Subscribe

Juan Romero, the Ambassador Hotel busboy who cradled a dying Robert F. Kennedy after he was shot on June 5, 1968, carried the weight of that moment through the decades. Now, he says, "I don't carry the cross anymore."
posted by Xavier Xavier (14 comments total) 23 users marked this as a favorite
 
That poor man. I would like to think that, if something like that had happened now, he would have had access to people who could help him process the trauma, but that may be wishful thinking.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 4:47 PM on August 30, 2015 [4 favorites]


Wow. Great story about a remarkable guy.
posted by jonmc at 5:00 PM on August 30, 2015 [3 favorites]


That poor man. I would like to think that, if something like that had happened now, he would have had access to people who could help him process the trauma, but that may be wishful thinking.

Current veteran suicide rates suggest he would not.
posted by mhoye at 5:09 PM on August 30, 2015 [8 favorites]


Great story, thanks for posting it.
posted by languagehat at 5:10 PM on August 30, 2015 [1 favorite]


I also was 17 when a man died in my arms after he was involved in a car wreck near my house. Romero's story gives me hope that perhaps one day I will also be able to get over it. Thanks for posting this.
posted by ob1quixote at 5:23 PM on August 30, 2015 [27 favorites]


Thanks for this. Great story. I sure feel sorry for Juan and I'm glad he is getting better. It's too bad he couldn't get some therapy earlier.
posted by freakazoid at 5:56 PM on August 30, 2015


I don't know whether Kennedy would have been a good president (or what that even means in a country like America.) But when his first words after being shot, and the last words of his life are, "Is everyone OK? ... Everything's going to be OK." That says something. I'm glad Mr. Romero is finding peace.
posted by klanawa at 6:58 PM on August 30, 2015 [18 favorites]


I remember seeing that photo in the newspaper. Imagine tourists wanting to pose for photos with him. My god.
posted by ThatCanadianGirl at 7:32 PM on August 30, 2015 [1 favorite]


"I don't know if you can understand this, but [what happened in 1968] ... made me realize that no matter how much hope you have, it can be taken away in a second."

1968 was the annus horribilis of all who lived through it. First, Martin Luther King was killed, then Bobby Kennedy and then the Chicago convention, then the election of Richard Nixon. Hope was snatched away so many times.

I pretty much felt the same way about Bobby Kennedy as did Juan Romero and the expression on his face in that photo still breaks my heart.

What breaks it even more is to realize how much farther to the left Nixon was than almost any president since. Never in my darkest moments in 1968, could I imagine what a cruel stupid horror show was to come.
posted by y2karl at 8:53 PM on August 30, 2015 [21 favorites]


1968 was the annus horribilis of all who lived through it.

I was born in the summer of 1968 and I've always wondered if my parents thought 'what a crazy, fucked up, unsure world to bring a kid into.'
They probably felt the same way I did while holding my 4-day-old son on 9/11.
posted by chococat at 9:27 PM on August 30, 2015 [14 favorites]


One day, while visiting his mother in Tulare, his guilt surfaced again while he spoke to Zwiener by phone. He said she comforted him by saying that in some of the photos, taken just moments after the shooting, the shoes of bystanders can be seen at a safe distance from Kennedy. But there's Juan, who didn't take cover, trying to help a man in need.

Gotta shut off this little desk fan. It's stirring up the dust.
posted by bryon at 12:47 AM on August 31, 2015 [5 favorites]


From our "Faith In Humanity Restored" dept.
posted by GallonOfAlan at 12:59 AM on August 31, 2015 [2 favorites]


What breaks it even more is to realize how much farther to the left Nixon was than almost any president since.

This is something people seem to like to say these days, but it's not even remotely close to the truth.
posted by mpbx at 7:45 AM on August 31, 2015 [3 favorites]


How beautiful that he sensed the good in the stranger Claudia Zwiener and she was able to help him overcome his trauma.

I was seven that year and my recollections of the (non-sports) world during my childhood were:
Assassinations
GI casualties
Race riots (as they were charmingly called)
antiwar riots
Watergate
Hijackings
Busing
Mafia
Striking unions
NASA

I guess any 15 year slice of history has its good and bad but 1961-1976 seems like it may have been worse than most.
posted by stupidsexyFlanders at 7:46 AM on August 31, 2015 [1 favorite]


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