‘On John F. Kerry’ (1974)

I was 20 years old in 1974, a sophomore studying political science at Merrimack College. when John Kerry announced he would not make a second attempt to be elected to Congress in the Fifth District. I had been a volunteer in the 1972 campaign, helping in a modest way in the primary and general elections. At the time, I was working at Cherry & Webb in downtown Lowell (elevator operator and shipping clerk), and took a lot of heat from my colleagues who supported Paul Sheehy, Helen Droney, Father Spike, and others. The first time I met John Kerry in the Central Street campaign headquarters, I felt as if I was meeting a future president of the United States. I’ve never had that impression again upon being introduced to somebody. True, I was idealistic, passionate about politics, and strongly anti-war regarding Vietnam (the military draft was suspended the year I became eligible). I assumed he would be elected to Congress and go from there. It didn’t work out as smoothly as I pictured, but in 2004 he was nominated by his party to be President and now is expected to be the next Secretary of State. I am grateful for his service to the people of Massachusetts. When he decided not to run in 1974, I wrote a Letter to the Editor of the Lowell Sun. Here’s an excerpt. — PM

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“… If there is ever to be a ‘community of mankind,’ it is necessary that we recognize the individuals who feel this common bond among men [and women] and give them the opportunity to make advances toward greater cooperation in our nation and beyond. … In the practical political sense, I think that Mr. Kerry should be respected for not following the path of the professional office-seekers of our day. With respect to the importance of local politicians, it seems that John Kerry felt that he could best serve the people in a higher office, yet he was criticized for that effort. I do not know what his intentions are, and I am not about to say that a man of his stature has a duty to enter public life and courageously face the lions, however I do hope that he continues to make his voice heard in politics, in the courts, in books, or in whatever way he chooses. …” (1974, Lowell Sun)

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