The content for this blog is built around the belief that important moments can happen anywhere, at any time — certainly when we travel. The International Museum of Photography is hosting an exhibit of the work of Henri Cartier Bresson, which is what I went to see. But they also have the photographic series of Bobby Kennedy’s last train ride, after the assassination. Part of that exhibit is a grainy old film of the train moving slowly, mournfully, south from New York to Washington D.C.
There were two of us seated in the darkened room where the film loops over and over, the engine coming slowly into view along the tracks, the backs of mourners that lined the way, the train cars, the last one moving slowly out of sight. The man seated near me asked softly, in the dark, “Were you there?” I replied that I had not been, that I was in Panama in the Peace Corps in 1968, and that the time was terrifying. All we saw when we went into Panama City and visited hotel bars with TV’s were cities burning, and the assassinations. We thought the world was coming to an end.
“I was there, in New Brunswick.” He was silent for a few moments, then he stood up, briefly touching my shoulder as he left. “I can’t watch it again, not even after all this time. I can’t bear to watch it.”
I stayed through two loops of the film, my sadness growing. Our current AG Sessions makes jokes to a white Republican audience about the brown children being snatched at the border from their families, and the audience laughed.
I can’t bear it either, what we’ve lost after all these years.