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(NECN: Greg Wayland) - It happened 40 years ago. A young New York senator with a famous name had taken one more step towards his party's nomination for president. Then, tragedy struck. Robert Kennedy lay mortally wounded by gunfire on June 5, 1968. Robert Kennedy was a winner in the California and South Dakota primaries. He was then shot and rushed to Good Samaritan Hospital in Los Angeles, where he died early on the morning on June 6. Before catastrophe struck, Kennedy seemed to be turning his party's eyes toward the sunlight. The nation was divided in 1968 as a turbulent decade approached its end. There had already been two assassinations -- Kennedy's brother, the president, and barely two months before Robert Kennedy's death, the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr. in Memphis, Tennessee. Hiding in the crowd that June night was a 24-year-old Palestinian -- Sirhan Sirhan. He had fired several shots from a 22-calabre pistol, two of them hitting Kennedy in the head. His motives were confused, his sanity always in question. He is serving a life prison sentence to this day. In this turbulent election season four decades later, some see Democrats still struggling with reforms intended to open up the process. Historians go on wondering if a lively and united Democratic coalition might have been another victim that June night in L.A.