At a ceremony in Queens at the base of the bridge that drew Kennedy's wife Ethel and many members of the Kennedy clan, Robert F. Kennedy Junior told the crowd that his father's message of hope had unified people of all religions, races and incomes.
"Originally my brother Bobby spoke to then Governor Spitzer and he loved the idea of renaming the bridge," Kerry Kennedy told the Irish Voice. "Governor Paterson then fully embraced it and saw it through the legislative process. Then Mayor Michael Bloomberg was very enthusiastic and hosted us at the Astoria Park where the bridge was renamed."
For the Kennedy family the renaming of the bridge has resonated deeply.
"I hope when kids ask their parents and grandparents who Robert Kennedy was they'll be told he was a man who righted wrongs, who healed suffering, who made peace. Perhaps his greatest legacy was not what he accomplished in life, but his vision for the future."
Kennedy noted with pride that her father had predicted in 1968 it would become possible for a black man to become president by 2008. She said that his remarkable projection was entirely in keeping with his life's work, which was to end conflict and suffering wherever he encountered it.
Said Kennedy, "We are so thrilled about Barack Obama's election to the presidency, and the timing couldn't have been more perfect. My father worked to bridge divides between rich and poor, young and old so in many ways this bridge is a confirmation of his entire life and a reflection of his hard work."
The RFK Bridge is the first major public work to be named after the late senator and attorney general. Kennedy was assassinated in June, 1968 while seeking the Democratic nomination for president.
"I think that the timing is extraordinary. It's his vision for America as a unified nation where we overcome partisan differences and work together on the issues facing Americans that resonates for me. It is already clear that that is going to be the priority of this administration," Kennedy feels.
Speaking at the renaming ceremony Bloomberg told the crowd, "New York wouldn't be the city it is today without the Triborough, and the United States wouldn't be the country it is today without Robert F. Kennedy. It's only fitting the naming of a bridge fit the grandeur of its scale."
Former President Bill Clinton told the assembled crowd that the best memorial for Kennedy would be to pause to think of the man's legacy every time one crossed the bridge.