In our sleep, pain which cannot forget falls drop by drop upon the heart until, in our own despair, against our will, comes wisdom through the awful grace of God.
attributed to Aeschylus, quoted by Bobby Kennedy upon the death of Martin Luther King.
Forty years ago today Martin Luther King was shot.
I was eighteen and soon Bobby Kennedy would be gone too.
He was campaigning in Indianapolis that day. He followed this poem with words that now echo in me with the timbre of Lincoln’s Gettysburgh Address.
We memorized Lincoln's words in Junior High.
But, you may not recall these of Kennedy from that night in April.
They are now etched in stone near his grave in Arlington:
What we need in the United States is not division; what we need in the United States is not hatred; what we need in the United States is not violence and lawlessness, but is love, and wisdom, and compassion toward one another, and a feeling of justice toward those who still suffer within our country, whether they be white or whether they be black.
You can hear Kennedy’s voice crack as he speaks of love.
You can see how very young he looks. He who was once my elder.