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Another Survivor Mourns R.F.K.

June 17, 1988

I was amazed to read Paul Ciotti's June 6 article in View, "Breaking His Silence" regarding Juan Romero, who tended to Robert F. Kennedy immediately after he was shot 20 years ago.

It really struck, as well as moved, me. The last several days as this sad anniversary has neared, I have often wondered what ever became of that young busboy, forever frozen in the memory of that photograph of the slain Kennedy.

I wondered why he had received no post-assassination publicity. Was he still alive? What had become of his life? Was he perhaps, shipped off to Vietnam? And why, after so many years if that young man was alive, had he faded into so much obscurity, without so much as a postscript noting his true, however unfortunate, place in history?

Your article answered these questions and made me feel so much empathy toward Juan Romero. Like him, I was 17 years old then, and earning $1.78 per hour as a grocery box boy. I had missed a chance to see Kennedy the day before he was shot as he motorcaded through Venice, because I was working. But as Romero stated, it was "the positive image he made you feel" that created the emptiness inside when Robert Kennedy was taken from us.

In my own way, I too withdrew after the assassination. I was convinced that had he lived, Kennedy would have been elected President and would quickly have pulled us out of the Vietnam quagmire. Save for the brief glory of the Apollo landing and walk on the moon a year later, Robert F. Kennedy's death signified the absolute end of not only the New Frontier, but a spirit of adventure and courage and an attempt to indeed right what was wrong.

I'm glad to hear from you, Juan Romero. To have quietly put together the pieces of your life, after having been there when an American Dream was shattered, is admirable. You, like so many of us, are the survivor of a tragic nightmare where once gleamed so much hope.

DON R. RILEY

Culver City

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