Greensburg Daily News, Greensburg, IN

May 1, 2013

Public RFK re-enactment to be staged Friday

Rob Cox
Greensburg Daily News

Greensburg — On May 3, students of Greensburg Community High School Teacher John Pratt will step 45 years back into national and local history with a public re-enactment of Robert F. Kennedy’s 1968 visit to Greensburg.

Pratt welcomed anyone with an interest in local and national history to attend.

The day will start at 12:55 p.m., with a re-enactment of Kennedy’s arrival into town. Student re-enactor Riley Burkert will ride in the same convertible that carried the famed politician into town that Friday afternoon in 1968.

After singing of the “Star Spangled Banner” by Kaylie Wood and introductions by Pratt, Jan Herkel, who was a Bobby Kennedy volunteer at Marion College in 1968, will address the audience.

On April 4, 1968, Pratt explained, Herkel and a group of her peers were “witness to Bobby Kennedy’s impromptu eulogy of Martin Luther King.”

“It was one of the most memorable speeches of all time,” Pratt said.

At 1:30 p.m., Burkert will again step into the role of Robert F. Kennedy, this time delivering a speech that’s as “close to the original” Kennedy gave on the Courthouse lawn that day. The text of the speech, Pratt explained, has been taken from newspaper accounts, as well as from speeches located at the JFK Library.

Stephen Shaffer, a 1974 GCHS graduate and a lifelong public servant of both the US House of Representatives and the US Department of the Interior, will round out the afternoon with an address from the Washington D.C. at 1:45 p.m.

Pratt described Shaffer’s account of May 3, 1968 as “fascinating.”

“It was a day that changed his life,” the veteran teacher said, “and led to a lifetime of public service.”

Kennedy’s 1968 swing through Greensburg was part of his larger campaign for president in 1968. His candidacy, of course, would be ended June 5, 1968, by an assassin’s bullet at The Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles,


The visit itself, while little more than a historical footnote, allows Pratt to relate national history to his students on an immediate, local level afforded by few other local happenings.

In addition to their work on the re-enactments, Pratt and his students have also spent the last several months “tracking down anyone who was there” for Kennedy’s Greensburg appearance.

“We’ve located and interviewed a total of eight people,” Pratt explained. “Those interviews have gone exceptionally well. It was tougher than we anticipated because of scheduling conflicts.”  

Pratt and his students captured those interviews on video and are currently editing them into a 60-minute documentary film. If all goes well, the finished product will debut after Memorial Day on GTV, GCHS’s student-run TV station.

For more information on the May 3 re-enactment of Robert F. Kennedy’s 1968 visit and speech in Greensburg, contact John Pratt at 663-7176 x1222 or at

Contact: Rob Cox at 812-663-3111 x7011