Juan Romero pays respects at RFK memorial

Juan Romero is the Ambassador Hotel busboy who was shaking hands with Sen. Robert Kennedy when he was shot by Sirhan Sirhan. Romero and his rosary beads are in the famous photographs of the dying presidential candidate lying in a pool of blood. Later that morning, Romero rode the bus to class at Roosevelt High School with his hero's blood on his hands. Romero's life has been haunted by that June 1968 night, as Times columnist Steve Lopez has written through the years. In Sunday's column, Lopez goes along as Romero makes his first tearful visit to the RFK grave at Arlington National Cemetery, with his daughter and two congressmen, Patrick Kennedy of Rhode Island (a son of Ted Kennedy) and Mike Honda from Romero's home in San Jose.

At Arlington on Saturday, Romero, now 60, walked slowly. His chest was tight and his shoulders stiff as he made his way toward the simple, small white cross that marks RFK's grave. He had wept the night before as he anticipated this moment, telling me how he had refused to wash Kennedy's dried blood off his hand.

Carolyn Cole photos of the visit are online at the Times' site.

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