(Originally published on June 6, 2019)

On June 6th, 1944, Allied forces landed on the beaches of Normandy for the final assault on Hitler's armies. Thousands of American soldiers arrived on the battered coast of Europe that day, carrying with them the hope of a new world, free from want and fear.

On June 6th, 1968, the last American leader to embody that hope died, the victim of assassination.

Robert Francis Kennedy had announced his presidency on a platform that would seem bizarre to us today: "I run to seek new policies - policies to end the bloodshed in Vietnam and in our cities, policies to close the gaps that now exist between black and white, between rich and poor, between young and old––in this country and around the rest of the world. I run for the presidency because I want the United States of America to stand for hope instead of despair, for reconciliation...instead of the growing risk of world war."

Three months later, he would be dead, the last in a series of four history-distorting assassinations that began with his brother, the president, and carried on through human rights champions Malcolm X and Martin Luther King, Jr.

The spirit that stormed the beaches of France in 1944 had grown sick. Dwight D. Eisenhower had led the United States to victory against the Nazis; by 1961, he felt compelled to warn his fellow countrymen that a “military-industrial complex” had actually won the day and now posed a mortal threat to democracy.

Seven years and a string of political murders later, up to our necks in the bloodbath of Vietnam, the inner-cities in rebellion, the needs of millions of poor Americans ignored, Robert Kennedy tried to shake us out of our sickness: "We cannot continue to deny and postpone the demands of our own people, while spending billions in the name of freedom elsewhere around the globe".

This June 6th, remember the spirit of hope that won in Europe and the last soldier to die in its defense at home, Robert Francis Kennedy.

Sign the petition, and help revive the spirit: https://www.americantruthnow.org/sign

On June 6th, 1966, two years to the day before his death, Senator Robert F. Kennedy addressed a group of South African students on the occasion of their annual "Day of Reaffirmation of Academic and Human Freedom." The speech he gave shook the foundations of apartheid in that country and reaffirmed the power of the individual to change the world:

“Few will have the greatness to bend history itself, but each of us can work to change a small portion of events, and in the total of all those acts will be written the history of this generation. It is from numberless diverse acts of courage and belief that human history is shaped. Each time a man stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope, and crossing each other from a million different centers of energy and daring, those ripples build a current that can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance.”

On this Memorial Day, we remember Robert Kennedy and three other giants of American progress, individual citizens who lost their lives because of their "diverse acts of courage" and their willingness to challenge the status quo at home and around the world.

President John F. Kennedy, assassinated on November 22, 1963, in Dallas, Texas.

Malcolm X, assassinated on February 21, 1965, in New York City, New York.

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., assassinated on April 4, 1968, in Memphis, Tennessee.

Robert F. Kennedy, assassinated June 6, 1968, in Los Angeles, California.

These four men defined the promise of the 1960s, and their loss deformed the course of human history. The example of their courage compels us, in these ever-darkening times, to send forth our own "ripple of hope" for human freedom, and to do so even in the face of our own discomfort or destruction, even in the face of our own despair.

Today, we remember the importance of their lives and fight for the truth about their deaths. Join us and help spread the word: https://www.americantruthnow.org/sign

This year, with fitting irony and great poignancy, the anniversary of the Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr.'s assassination falls on Easter Sunday.

For millennia before Christ, and long before it had been given a name, Easter has marked a time of rebirth, of resurrection from the dead of winter. It celebrates a time when day outlives night.

And yet April can be the cruelest month, and on April 4th, 1968, one of America's leading lights, perhaps its brightest, was snuffed out.

For the crime of opposing a profitable bloodshed in a faraway land, he was brutally silenced. For the transgression of bringing together a divided people to oppose poverty, he was marked for death by the powerful among his own countrymen.

Today, as efforts to divide black from white from brown intensify, as speech is muzzled and the speakers are canceled, as millions who have lost their jobs and small businesses plunge into poverty, as sabres rattle once more and new powers of darkness rise over the earth, we might take some comfort in these words from a sermon Dr. King gave on a long ago Easter Sunday in 1959, with so many struggles already behind him and so many others still ahead:

"And so this morning, let us not be disillusioned. Let us not lose faith. So often we’ve been crucified. We’ve been buried in numerous graves—the grave of economic insecurity, the grave of exploitation, the grave of oppression. We’ve watched justice trampled over and truth crucified. But I’m here to tell you this morning, Easter reminds us that it won’t be like that all the way. It reminds us that God has a light that can shine amid all the darkness."