‘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. IĀ amĀ 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


“… 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)