Monday, February 4, 2013

John Kerry's First Campaign

On October 15, 1969, popular protests against the Vietnam War peaked when 10 million people in thousands of communities in all fifty states, students, non-students, the middle-aged and the middle class, from every profession attended protest meetings and rallies. Republican and Democratic politicians maneuvered to address the public meetings. In working-class communities as well as the affluent suburbs, speakers read the names of local men killed in Vietnam. The Moratorium set the stage for serious political action to challenge the Vietnam hawks in office who insisted on supporting the war without a purpose, costing an enormous toll of lives and pain. In the 4th Massachusetts, this took the form of challenging the hawk incumbent US Rep. Philip Philbin. The word went out and many antiwar supporters appeared from the entire citizenry as though by magic. I was committed to the dean of the Boston College Law School, Rev. Robert F. Drinan, as the best-known and most prestigious candidate willing to sacrifice his career to end the bloodbath. One morning, I was working at my job, President and CEO of Massachusetts Envelope Company in Somerville when the company receptionist came to my office with a problem. A young man who presented himself as a student at Harvard College insisted on seeing me immediately, calling the demand a matter of life and death. Without an appointment, the student was told the interview was not possible that day at that time. The student refused to leave citing the importance of his mission. Bending the rules, the student was ushered into my office. His name was Cameron Kerry, he was a Harvard student and his mission was to obtain for his older brother, just returned from combat in Vietnam, the right to be included in the political Caucus being planned to select the candidate to defeat Philip Philbin. His brother, Cameron said, can speak with the greatest credibility on Vietnam as a decorated veteran of the war, a young man returning after years of fighting service. Impressed by the brotherly admiration and devotion, I nevertheless had to resist because I was committed to father Drinan, who went on to win the Caucus and the congressional seat and to distinguish himself as totally committed to liberty, peace and the pursuit of happiness, a virtual saint in his courageous pursuit of peace and social Justice. However, John Kerry had stunned the 2000 political activists who attended the Caucus with his commitment to the same issues as Drinan. He could not be ignored. I took the microphone and acknowledged Kerry’s words and his absolute commitment to support the winner of the Caucus and opposition to the Vietnam War. “John Kerry”, I said, “We will never forget your sacrifice in the name of group unity. You have a great political future and I will be a part of it, supporting your various candidacies as you rise to the leadership of our nation.” And I have fulfilled my pledge as John Kerry has lived up to the promises and expectations of his brother Cameron. Now, when he speaks about his eagerness to end the Vietnam War, he suggests he may have been too aggressive, didn't think clearly, it was not thought out, but it was how he felt. John: no apologies, please. You and your fellow protesters saved thousands of American and Vietnamese lives, setting a humanitarian standard, never to be forgotten.


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