John Kerry was born on December 11, 1943 at Fitzsimons Army Hospital in Aurora,
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
side by side with America’s military might.
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. For his
leadership, courage, and sacrifice under fire, he was decorated
with a Silver Star, a Bronze Star with Combat V, and three Purple
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 when he came home to the
United States, John Kerry spoke out against a policy he felt gave
politicians political cover while soldiers bore the real burden.
At 27 years old, John Kerry sounded a call to reason 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?" He also began a lifelong fight for his fellow
veterans – joining with other vets to found the Vietnam Veterans
of America to fight for veterans’ benefits, for extension
of the G.I. Bill for Higher Education, and for treatment of PTSD.
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 by the largest margin in Massachusetts
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
President Bush’s plan to drill in the Arctic National Wildlife
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 needs the strongest military on the face of the earth – and
that America should lead 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
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.
In 2003, John Kerry announced that he would be a candidate for
president of the United States -- and he went on to mount a come
from behind campaign that won the Democratic nomination. The American
people reminded him once again that people are the same wherever
you go, and he continues in the United States Senate fighting for
what motivated him to enter public life in the first place: love
of country and the call of duty.
In his life of public service, John Kerry is sustained by his
loving 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 Shepherd.