For Romero, the photo was shattering on a very personal level. He spent decades averting his eyes when confronted by the snapshot. To him, it was a grotesque reminder of the shocking slaying — one that stoked a confusing mix of anger, guilt and unwanted attention.
…“About five years ago, I finally looked at the picture and really studied it. I could finally see what a lot of other people saw. Here was a senator who tried to help minorities, people who couldn’t help themselves, and in the moment when he needed help, here was a Mexican-American busboy trying to comfort him,” Romero told The News.
Romero, now a father and grandfather working in the construction industry in San Jose, Calif., recalled immigrating to the U.S. from Nayarit, Mexico, when he was 10.
“It felt so great to be in America. But as I grew older, I heard grownups say all we were good for was selling tacos,” he recalled.
“At 15 to 16 years old, you start to feel the hate, and you start to internalize it,” he said.Romero said it was a big deal when he heard how Kennedy’s brother John F. Kennedy praised Mexican people as hardworking and family-oriented.
…“I wanted to go and help serve that night because I really wanted to see if what I had heard and seen and felt in my heart was true. And it was beyond real for me. When he looked at you, he looked at you,” Romero said.
…Romero said that by sharing his memories on the anniversary of Kennedy’s death, he hopes to reach at least one young person today who might be feeling the same way he did as a teen.He said in the era of President Trump’s crackdown on immigration, it’s especially important to honor Kennedy’s legacy.
“Trump right now, he’s using immigrants, whether Muslims or Latin Americans, as scapegoats. He has brought a lot of hate toward immigrants and minorities,” Romero said.
“My hope is that my talking about (Kennedy) causes a young person to look back in history and listen to his words and pick up his way of thinking,” he said.
“I realized the best way to honor Bobby was to talk about what I saw in him.”