ON THIS DATE in 1968, seventeen-year-old Juan Romero comforted Robert F. Kennedy after the presidential candidate was shot at a hotel in Los Angeles. A busboy at the Ambassador Hotel, Romero crouched at Kennedy’s side in a moment captured in a now-iconic photograph. When Kennedy asked, “Is everybody safe?” the busboy said, “Yes, yes, everything is going to be OK,” and then placed a rosary in the dying man’s hand.
The Mexican-American youth — he had been born near Puerto Vallarta — testified in the assassin’s murder trial, and then refused to talk about the shooting for two decades. Romero told the Los Angeles Times in 1988 that his sudden celebrity seemed wrong to him. Kennedy’s death was “sad,” he said, and being there was nothing he felt “proud of.” Shortly after the shooting, Romero was offered a college scholarship in exchange for an exclusive interview, an offer he declined. It “didn’t feel right to take advantage of a situation,” he said.