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Deputy Archivist’s Welcome for "Bobby Kennedy: A Raging Spirit "

Good afternoon. I’m Debra Steidel Wall, Deputy Archivist of the United States, and I’m pleased to welcome you to the William G. McGowan Theater at the National Archives to hear Chris Matthews talk about his new biography of Robert Kennedy. Welcome also to those of you joining us through YouTube.

But before we get started, I’d like to tell you about a few programs coming up here in the next few days.

Tomorrow—the day we open our new exhibit “Remembering Vietnam”—November 10—we will also present three related programs. Two authors will be here to talk about and sign their books, Six Years in the Hanoi Hilton and Women Vietnam Veterans: Our Untold Story. Later in the afternoon, members of the North Carolina Vietnam Helicopter Pilots Association will share their memories of their Vietnam experiences and tell us about the three Bell helicopters that are parked outside our building.

On Saturday, November 11, we will present three more programs related to the exhibit. First, Frances O’Roark Dowell will help us see Vietnam through the eyes of a child as she discusses her book, Shooting the Moon. Later in the afternoon, we’ll show the film We Were Soldiers. And in the evening, we will celebrate the 35th anniversary of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial with a panel discussion that will include the founder of Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund, Jan Scruggs.

To find out the exact schedule and to learn more about these and all of our public programs and exhibits, consult our monthly Calendar of Events online at Archives.gov. Check our website or sign up to get email updates. You’ll also find information about other National Archives programs and activities.

Another way to get more involved with the National Archives is to become a member of the National Archives Foundation. The Foundation supports the work of the agency, especially its education and outreach programs. Pick up your application for membership in the lobby or become a member online at archivesfoundation.org.

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Chris Matthews’s new book, Bobby Kennedy: A Raging Spirit, opens with two photographs of ordinary Americans standing by the railroad tracks, honoring Robert Kennedy as his funeral train passed by. One collection in the John F. Kennedy Library in Boston contains more than 200 of such photos. Seth Beckerman was a student at George Washington University in 1968 and worked on the school newspaper. Senator Kennedy’s office specifically requested that student journalists join the press corps for Robert Kennedy’s final journey, and so Beckerman found himself on the funeral train.

The images of the thousands of mourners who lined the tracks vividly show how deeply Kennedy had moved people from many walks of life. That a student journalist took the pictures speaks to the appeal that the Presidential candidate had for young voters.

For many, these images of the end of Robert Kennedy’s life are the most vivid. In this new biography, Chris Matthews reflects on Kennedy’s life and work and gives us a picture of a complex man, dedicated to family and to public service.

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Let’s hear from the author now and learn about Bobby Kennedy: A Raging Spirit.

Chris Matthews, probably best known for anchoring Hardball on MSNBC, has had a long and eventful career covering American politics.

As a U.S. Senate aide, Presidential speechwriter, and top assistant to the Speaker of the House, he witnessed the last years of the Vietnam War, Watergate, and the Reagan years from inside the political arena.

During his 13 years as Washington bureau chief for the San Francisco Examiner, he covered some of the biggest stories of the late 20th century and every Presidential election since 1988.

The book we’ll hear about today—Bobby Kennedy: A Raging Spirit—is his eighth book—and the third one about Kennedys.

An alumnus of Holy Cross, Matthews did graduate work at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. As a Peace Corps volunteer, he served as a trade development adviser for two years with the Kingdom of Swaziland. He holds 34 honorary degrees.

Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome Chris Matthews.