Remembering Robert F. Kennedy's final journey, 50 years after his death

Remembering Robert F. Kennedy

BALTIMORE -- Wednesday marks 50 years since the death of Sen. Robert F. Kennedy, who was assassinated at the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles after winning the California presidential primary. His widow, Ethel, marked the anniversary by placing a rose on his grave at Arlington.

Fifty years ago, as the 21-car funeral train carrying Kennedy traveled from New York City, mourners stood by in silence.

CBS News' John Dickerson spoke to Stephanie Lang, who was 24 when she watched from Baltimore, along with her husband and 2-year-old daughter.

"Did it feel like you were attending a funeral or a mass?" Dickerson asked her.

"No. It made me feel like I was part of history," Lang said. "When the train came through, that was the moment that I stopped, I put my hand on my heart. It was a shame that it happened, what happened to him and his family."

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Mourners line the train tracks as the funeral car carrying Robert F. Kennedy's body passes by.  CBS News

An estimated 1 million people lined the more-than-200 mile route. Aboard, photographer Paul Fusco captured each moment: The 10-row deep crowds, a couple sitting alone, people perched on walls or in their backyard. Twenty-two of these rare images are now on exhibit at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.

"It was fairly solemn because the train was carrying the remains of our last hope," said Michael Scott, who says seeing the images takes him back to the side of the tracks in Maryland. "You can see it in their faces. Some are crying, Some of the faces in the pictures are stoic, but there was an energy coming from that train which demanded respect."

Scott was 15 when Kennedy died. He admired him for his protection of civil rights demonstrators, so Scott told his mother he had to see the train.

"In the last car stand, I'm looking at a lady with a veil, sitting next to a coffin that's carrying the hope of my family, black Americans, people from Appalachia. In that box was Robert Kennedy. That's imprinted in my head, in my mind. I'll never forget that," Scott said.

The images of the last goodbye -- for the man and the hope he represented.