John F. Kerry
John F. Kerry was born on December 11, 1943 at Fitzsimons Army Hospital in Colorado. His father, Richard, volunteered in the Army Air Corps and flew DC-3's and B-29's as a test pilot during World War II. His mother, Rosemary, was a lifelong community activist and devoted parent. She was a Girl Scout leader for 50 years, and one of her proudest possessions was her 50 year Girl Scout pin. She was an environmentalist and a community activist.
Not long after John Kerry was born, the family settled in Massachusetts. Growing up there, his parents taught him the values of service and responsibility and the blessings of his Catholic faith, lessons John Kerry carries with him to this day.
Because his father was a Foreign Service Officer in the Eisenhower administration, John Kerry traveled a lot when he was young. On these trips, he learned firsthand what makes America a leader in the world - our optimism and our democratic values. And he learned that nations across the world share many common goals and that the best way to achieve them is through building strong alliances.
As he was graduating from Yale, John Kerry volunteered to serve in Vietnam, because, as he later said, "it was the right thing to do." He believed that “to whom much is given, much is required.” And he felt he had an obligation to give something back to his country. John Kerry served two tours of duty. On his second tour, he volunteered to serve on a Swift Boat in the river deltas, one of the most dangerous assignments of the war. His leadership, courage, and sacrifice earned him a Silver Star, a Bronze Star with Combat V, and three Purple Hearts.
But John Kerry's wartime experience taught him a painful lesson that he could not forget, even after he returned home. In the midst of battle, he had seen the lives of his fellow soldiers, his friends, put at risk because some leaders in Washington were making bad decisions. He decided he had a responsibility to his friends still serving, the friends he had lost, and his country, to help restore responsible leadership in America.
So he decided to become active as a Vietnam Veteran Against the War (VVAW). He became a spokesman for VVAW and later co-founded Vietnam Veterans of America. Only 27 years old, John Kerry sounded this call to reason in April 1971 when he testified before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and posed the powerful question, "How do you ask a man to be the last man to die for a mistake?"
Later, John Kerry accepted another tour of duty - to serve in America's communities. After graduating from Boston College Law School in 1976, John Kerry went to work as a top prosecutor in Middlesex County, Massachusetts. He took on organized crime and put behind bars "one of the state's most notorious gangsters, the number two organized crime figure in New England." He fought for victims' rights and created programs for rape counseling.
John Kerry was elected Lieutenant Governor in 1982. In that office, he organized the nation's Governors to combat the acid rain that was polluting lakes, rivers, and the nation's water supply. Two years later, he was elected to the United States Senate and he has won reelection three-times since. He is now serving his fourth term, after winning again in 2002.
John Kerry entered the Senate with a reputation as a man of conviction. He confirmed that reputation by taking bold decisions on important issues. He helped provide health insurance for millions of low-income children. He has fought to improve public education, protect our natural environment, and strengthen our economy. He has been praised as one of the leading environmentalists in the Senate, who stopped the Bush-Cheney plan to drill in the Artic National Wildlife Refuge.
John Kerry has never forgotten the lessons he learned as a young man – lessons that have been strengthened in his 19 years on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. He has learned that America must work with other countries to achieve our goals and the world's common goals. From his ground-breaking work on the Iran-Contra scandal to his leadership on global AIDS, John Kerry has distinguished himself as one of our nation's most respected voices on national security and international affairs.
As chairman of the Senate Select Committee on POW/MIA Affairs, he worked closely with John McCain to learn the truth about American soldiers missing in Vietnam and to normalize relations with that country. As the ranking Democrat on the East Asian and Pacific Affairs Subcommittee, he is a leading expert on that region, including North Korea.
Years before September 11th, John Kerry wrote The New War, an in-depth study of America's national security in the 21st Century. He worked on a bipartisan basis to craft the American response to September 11th and has been a leading voice on American policy in Iraq and Afghanistan, the war on terrorism, the Middle East peace process and Israel's security.
John Kerry would not be running today if it were not for the enthusiastic support of his family. He is married to Teresa Heinz Kerry, and they have a blended family that includes two daughters, three sons, one grandchild, and a German Shepard named Cym.
United States Navy
Volunteered for duty in Vietnam where he earned three Purple Hearts, the Silver Star and the Bronze Star.
Military Service TimelineFeb 1966
Formally enlists in U.S. Navy
Source: John Kerry for President 2004 Web Site
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