< '); HistoryCentral.com > US Presidential Elections Election 2004 John Kerry

 

John Kerry

 


John Kerry was born on December 11, 1943 at Fitzsimmons Military Hospital in Denver, Colorado, where his father, Richard, who had volunteered to fly DC-3's in the Army Air Corps in World War II, was recovering from a bout with tuberculosis. Not long after Sen. Kerry's birth, his family returned home to Massachusetts.
A graduate of Yale University, John Kerry entered the Navy after graduation, becoming a Swift Boat officer, serving on a gunboat in the Mekong Delta in Vietnam. He received a Silver Star, Bronze Star with Combat V, and three awards of the Purple Heart for his service in combat.
By the time Senator Kerry returned home from Vietnam, he felt compelled to question decisions he believed were being made to protect those in positions of authority in Washington at the expense of the soldiers carrying on the fighting in Vietnam. Kerry was a co-founder of the Vietnam Veterans of America and became a spokesperson for the Vietnam Veterans Against the War -- Morley Safer would describe him as "a veteran whose articulate call to reason rather than anarchy seemed to bridge the gap between the Abbie Hoffman's of the world and Mr. Agnew's so-called 'Silent Majority.'" In April 1971, testifying before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, he asked the question of his fellow citizens, "How do you ask a man to be the last man to die for a mistake?" Sen. Claiborne Pell, (D-R.I.) thanked Kerry, then 27, for testifying before the committee, expressing his hope that Kerry "might one day be a colleague of ours in this body."
Fourteen years later, John Kerry would have the opportunity to fulfill those hopes - serving side by side with Sen. Pell as a Member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. But in the intervening years, he found different ways to fight for those things in which he believed. Time and again, Kerry fought to hold the political system accountable and to do what he believed was right. As a top prosecutor in Middlesex County, Kerry took on organized crime and put the Number Two mob boss in New England behind bars. He modernized the District Attorney's office, creating an innovative rape crisis crime unit, and as a lawyer in private practice he worked long and hard to prove the innocence of a man wrongly given a life sentence for a murder he did not commit.
In 1984, after winning election as Lieutenant Governor in 1982, Kerry ran and was elected to serve in the United States Senate, running and winning a successful PAC-free Senate race and defeating a Republican opponent buoyed by Ronald Reagan's reelection coattails. Like his predecessor, the irreplaceable Paul Tsongas, Kerry came to the Senate with a reputation for independence -- and reinforced it by making tough choices on difficult issues: breaking with many in his own Party to support Gramm-Rudman Deficit Reduction; taking on corporate welfare and government waste; pushing for campaign finance reform; holding Oliver North accountable and exposing the fraud and abuse at the heart of the BCCI scandal; working with John McCain in the search for the truth about Vietnam veterans declared POW/MIA; and insisting on accountability, investment, and excellence in public education.
Sen. Kerry was re-elected in 1990, again in 1996, defeating the popular Republican Governor William Weld in the most closely watched Senate race in the country, and in 2002. Now serving his fourth term, Kerry has worked to reform public education, address children's issues, strengthen the economy and encourage the growth of the high tech New Economy, protect the environment, and advance America's foreign policy interests around the globe.
John Kerry is married to Teresa Heinz Kerry. He has two daughters, Alexandra and Vanessa. Teresa has three sons, John, Andre, and Christopher. Senator Kerry lives in Boston.