Seems like when summer comes around, there are more anniversaries. June 4th, 1968, was the day Robert Kennedy was shot after squeeking by Gene McCarthy to win the California Primary. (He did not die until the 6th.) It’s the kind of tragedy that never seems to dissipate. We still miss him, his loss still leaves in our history books and in our historical memories an aching void that nobody has filled. How many politicians have quoted him and compared themselves to him? And yet, Bobby was one of those rare things, an irreplaceable man.
On a brighter note, June 4th was also the day that Winston Churchill made a speech that cemented him in the hearts of England and the world as a great statesman. It was after the miracle at Dunkirk. “Even though large tracts of Europe and many old and famous States have fallen or may fall into the grip of the Gestapo and all the odious apparatus of Nazi rule, we shall not flag or fail. We shall go on to the end, we shall fight in France, we shall fight on the seas and oceans, we shall fight with growing confidence and growing strength in the air, we shall defend our Island, whatever the cost may be, we shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender, and even if, which I do not for a moment believe, this Island or a large part of it were subjugated and starving, then our Empire beyond the seas, armed and guarded by the British Fleet, would carry on the struggle, until, in God’s good time, the New World, with all its power and might, steps forth to the rescue and the liberation of the old.”
“Wars are not won by evacuations,” Churchill said, and it is true. However, living to fight another day can be a victory of sorts, and certainly it was in this case. It was the case in another event as well. After Great Britain shellacked the Colonial Army in New York, Washington engineered a night time retreat that saved the army. Wrote David McCullough, “The orderly withdrawal of an army was cnosidered one of the most difficult of all manuevers, even for the best-trained soldiers, and the fact that Washington’s ragtag amateur army was making a night withdrawal in perfect order and silence…seemed more than could be hoped for.” The British awoke hoping to end the war only to find, to their utter astonishment, that Washington had escaped.
And on June 4th, 2015, President Obama signed an amendment which lowered the drinking age, as required by the federal government, to eighteen instead of twenty-one.
So there you have it. June 4. A day that will live in the history books.