John Kerry is famously known as a former Senator and Secretary of State, but he is more than just that! He is also a distinguished war veteran and a published author; truly a multi-talented individual in his own right. Here are some amazing snippets from the Colorado native’s colorful life:
John Kerry Facts
1. He is a decorated war veteran.
John Kerry, who is a son of Foreign service lawyer, is what you might call a ‘military brat.’ It can be said that his decision to enlist in 1966 was inspired by his father’s service in both the Army Air Corps and the Navy, an interesting fact about John Kerry.
He served in South Vietnam on board the USS Gridley, and for his service, he was awarded numerous medals. He was initially awarded two Purple Heart Medals – one after being wounded in December 1968, and another one after a daring escape to the Gulf of Thailand in February 1969.
John Kerry was also granted the Silver Star award for saving his crew from a Viet Cong attack. Following this was a Bronze Star award (and his third Purple Heart award) which he received after rescuing officer James Rassman from a sniper attack.
More than just medals, Kerry owes his various abilities to his navy stint. In his interview with the Harvard Business Review, he expressed that it was the military training that taught him “management skills, leadership, accountability, hierarchy—all things that are critical to any kind of effective organization and team.”
2. He might have engaged in war, but John Kerry is actually anti-war.
Despite serving bravely in the Vietnam War, John Kerry came back a changed man after his tour in southeast Asia. He joined the Vietnam Veterans Against War, a collective that echoed the anti-war sentiment.
John Kerry and his fellow veterans participated in a demonstration in April 1971, where they tossed their medals over the fence of the United States Capitol. For Kerry and his fellow protestors, this was a symbol of opposition – returning their laurels back to the government that keeps on promoting the war.
Kerry was even arrested for participating in a march to commemorate American POWs captured in North Vietnam. He and his comrades, however, were freed on a measly $5 bail.
Kerry was also supposed to be court-martialed for his anti-war sentiments, however, the then-Defense Secretary Melvin Laird declined the military’s request to do so. While he did not approve of what John Kerry did, Laird explained that “he understood what Kerry and the other veterans were going through.”
3. He is a seasoned politician.
An interesting fact about John Kerry is that his political career had a dismal start. He ended up losing the congressional seat to Paul Cronin in 1972. Not to be deterred by his first defeat, Kerry ran and won the Lieutenant Governor seat a decade after.
Kerry was elected senator in 1985, a position he held until 2013. His notable accomplishments included the Kerry Report, which exposed the US army’s activity during the Nicaraguan civil war. The report discussed how the country was actually supplying and funding the Contras, militants who were against the Sandinista Junta of the National Reconstruction Government of Nicaragua.
Together with Senator Hank Brown, Kerry released the BCCI Affair, a lengthy report on the corrupt Pakistan-based Bank of Credit and Commerce International. The document showed that the bank was working with terrorists, such as the likes of Abu Nidal.
4. He ran for President in 2004 – and unfortunately lost.
After defeating John Edwards, Howard Dean, and Wesley Clark in the Democratic presidential primaries, John Kerry embarked on a campaign against then-President George W. Bush.
Kerry lost to Bush by a narrow margin – the presidential hopeful got 48.3% of the votes while the incumbent won with 50.7% of the votes. His flip-flopping – he voted for a war against Saddam Hussein and shortly after voted against it – was cited to be a reason behind his defeat.
5. He served as Secretary of State from 2013-2017.
In February 2013, John Kerry resigned as Massachusetts senator to take the position of Secretary of State. During his tenure, he was able to negotiate the 2013-2014 Israeli-Palestinian Peace Talks.
Kerry also helped enact the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, popularly known as the Iran Nuclear Deal. This saw Iran’s commitment to eliminating its uranium stockpile and reducing the number of its gas centrifuges.
He also made headlines as the first Secretary of State to visit Cuba to mark the restoration of the countries’ diplomatic relations in 2015.
Kerry’s tenure marked the signing of the Paris Climate Accords. He also unveiled the “Global Connect” program, which aims to provide internet connectivity to far-flung areas by the year 2020.
6. He is a lawyer by profession.
Inspired by his father, John Kerry pursued a degree in law following his heartbreaking congressional loss in 1972. He entered Boston College Law School the following year and subsequently graduated in 1976.
An interesting fact about John Kerry is that he passed the bar exam the same year and was promoted as First Assistant District Attorney in 1977. He left the service two years after to establish a law firm with fellow lawyer Roanne Sargow.
7. He is an exceptional orator.
John Kerry is a brilliant debater, and it is apparent in his public speaking engagements as a lawyer, politician, public official, and author. Under the tutelage of historian Rollin Osterweis, he won many debate contests across the country. His speech against US Foreign Policy also won him acclaim as the best orator in his junior class at Yale University.
8. He is an author as well!
As with most politicians before him, John Kerry has written several books about his life and times as a military man and a public servant. In 1971, he published “The New Soldier,” as part of his activism with the Vietnam Veterans Against the War. In 1997, he wrote “The New War: The Web of Crime that Threatens America’s Security.” “A Call to Service: My Vision for a Better America,” and “Every Day is Extra” were published in 2003 and 2018 respectively.
John Kerry is more than just a respected politician, he is also a decorated war veteran, lawyer, and bestselling author. Despite his defeats, he always rises up stronger than ever. Of the many impressive facts about John Kerry, his resilience truly serves as a great inspiration to many people.
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