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Who is John Kerry?
Blog...Who is John Kerry?

Who is John Kerry?

Ecology News
massachusetts in the falls
In this article, we’ll give a snapshot of John Kerry’s life – from his early life, education, and rise to prominence in the political world.
Ecology News
massachusetts in the falls

Especially in the midst of the 2024 presidential election, it’s hard to keep track of all the prominent figures in politics today – such as John Kerry.

Who is John Kerry, why is he a well-known political figure, and what are his views and values?

In this article, we’ll give a snapshot of John Kerry’s life – from his early life, education, and rise to prominence in the political world.

Who is John Kerry?

John Kerry is a U.S. politician, identifying with the Democratic Party, who is currently serving as the first U.S. Presidential Envoy for Climate – a new role specifically designed to handle energy and climate policy. 

Previously, Kerry ran for president in 2004 and had served as a senator for Massachusetts for 28 years until 2013. 

John Kerry & Barack Obama

👉 Did you know that it was John Kerry who introduced the world to Barack Obama when he chose him to deliver a keynote speech? It is important to note that Obama already had political background, having served as a senator in Illinois – but it is Kerry who threw him into a new stratosphere. 

Early Life & Education

John Kerry was born in Aurora, Colorado on December 11th, 1943 – but his family relocated to Massachusetts as a child. His father was Richard Kerry, who served as a pilot and diplomat during World War II, and his mother was Rosemary Forbes Kerry – a descendant of the first governor of Massachusetts.

Needless to say, much of Kerry’s desire to serve in the U.S. military and politics may have come from his parent’s background.

After growing up in Massachusetts in his early childhood, John Kerry went to Switzerland at the age of 11 to attend boarding school – which was located outside of Zurich at the Institut Montana. Following his education in Switzerland, Kerry continued to study at Yale University, where he majored in political science – and eventually received his J.D. from Boston College Law School in 1976.

swiss alps

👉 John Kerry was always an engaged student who took an interest in politics.

However, before he went to Boston College Law School – John Kerry began volunteering for the U.S. Navy, and became well-known for his efforts amidst the Vietnam war.

John Kerry earned a Silver Star, Bronze Star, and three Purple Hearts for his volunteer service in the U.S. Navy – and is often deemed as a ‘War Hero’.

After his service in the U.S. Navy, Kerry tried to run for U.S. congress, but to no avail – and this is when he decided to shift gears and attend Boston College Law School.

view of boston

Career Beginnings

After a failed attempt to run for Massachusetts' 5th Congressional District in 1972, Kerry decided to return to school and attended Boston College Law School. Kerry’s brother infamously refers to this decade of John Kerry’s life as, “the exile years” – as it was time in between Kerry’s attempted political career and returning to school.

Ultimately, John Kerry got his start in politics after receiving his degree at Boston College Law School –  as it was during his studies that he was granted a role as student prosecutor at the District Attorney in Middlesex County.

After John Kerry graduated from Boston College Law School in 1976 and passed the bar, he began to work full-time at the same office he interned at during his studies. For the next few years, John Kerry continued with his law career in private before giving his political career another go – but it is clear that his years in “exile” were not wasted.

👉 Did you know that in between his studies, John Kerry worked as a news radio talk show host for WBZ in Boston?

Following the completion of his J.D., John Kerry served as the lieutenant governor of Massachusetts for two years prior to winning a seat in the U.S. Senate in 1984 – a role he held for 28 years.

It is important to note that much of John Kerry’s political career happened over time, especially in between his service during the Vietnam War.

Why is John Kerry considered a war hero among many?

Besides his endeavors as a politician and attorney, John Kerry served in the U.S. Naval Reserve from 1966 until 1970 before being honorably discharged in order to run for Congress.

During his run for presidency in 2004, George Bush accused John Kerry multiple times of lying about his contributions in the U.S. Navy – specifically, during the Vietnam War. 

Throughout their respective presidential campaigns in 2004, Bush pontificated that Kerry was merely on secret missions in Cambodia and that his Purple Hearts were not honestly earned. As a result, many began to speculate that John Kerry’s time in Vietnam was nothing more than a campaign scheme to be used throughout his run for presidency in 2004.

In fact, an entire book titled, “Unfit for Command” written by John O'Neil and Jerome Corsi was published in attempts to expose John Kerry and prevent him from being elected.

However, in contrast to many of the controversies throughout his 2004 presidential campaign – John Kerry is still considered a hero in the Vietnam War to many. 

For example, one of the Purple Hearts John Kerry received was acquired after having been injured in December of 1968 – and although none of his injuries were serious wounds, it is the continued effort on behalf of Kerry that many admire. 

John Kerry received his second Purple Heart from an injury in his left thigh after encountering a piece of shrapnel. His third Purple Heart was received after a mine exploded underneath one of John Kerry’s swiftboats, leaving him injured once again.

👉 Although none of John Kerry’s injuries left him immobilized, he is still considered a war hero for the perseverance he demonstrated throughout his military service – and it is important to note that there is no criteria for how serious an injury must be to acquire a Purple Heart.

vietnam war

How did John Kerry rise to prominence in the political world?

John Kerry’s previous military, law, and political experiences lead him to several exceptional opportunities. 

After having served as a senator in Massachusetts and 20 years of political experience under his belt, Kerry became most well-known for being elected as the Democratic nominee for 2004 presidential election – in which he lost to George Bush, the 43rd president of the United States.

Bush & Kerry last speeches before voting in 2004
Much of John Kerry’s presidential campaign was centered around improving funding for education, universal healthcare, and using his experiences in law to reform the persecution of criminals.

👉 In addition to this, Kerry served in the Obama administration as the secretary of state from 2013 to 2017.

Here’s a chronological list of John Kerry’s life & career highlights:

  • 1966 – Yale Undergrad Graduation
  • 1966 to 1970 – Served in the U.S. Navy
  • 1972 – Lost an attempted run for Massachusetts' 5th Congressional District
  • 1976 – Boston College Law School Graduation 
  • 1977 to 1982 – Served as an assistant district attorney in Massachusetts
  • 1982 to 1984 – Served as lieutenant governor of Massachusetts
  • 1984 to 2013 – U.S. senator from Massachusetts
  • 2004 – Ran for president and was chosen as the Democratic presidential nominee
  • 2013 to 2017 – Served in the Obama Administration as U.S. secretary of State
  • 2021 to present – First ever U.S. Presidential Envoy for Climate
Ultimately, despite a few bumps in the road – John Kerry has had a long-standing and successful political career.
bush on podium

What does John Kerry think of climate change?

Similar to Biden, John Kerry believes that climate change is a universal threat – and that the United States must work harder to produce and export more renewable energy. 

Currently, Kerry is serving as the first ever U.S. Presidential Envoy for Climate under the Biden administration – where his main role is to visit foreign countries and negotiate climate policy. 

Kerry on MSNBC on Climate Envoy & China

However, some of John Kerry’s opinions on climate change have since resurfaced in 2023. Back in 2009, when Kerry was serving as a Senator for Massachusetts, he claimed scientists believed that in five year’s time (2014) – that the Arctic would experience its first, “ice free” summer.

Republicans like Ted Cruz have been quick to comment on the “inaccuracy” of John Kerry’s statement – as it has ignited debates on John Kerry’s ultimately incorrect claim. 

Regardless, it is important to note that even if the Arctic isn’t entirely ice-free yet, Kerry’s sentiment wasn’t far off – seeing as other massive glaciers in the world, such as the Himalayan Glaciers, are indeed melting at rapid paces and pose a great threat to society.

In fact, John Kerry has alluded to the newfound efforts to implement the production and use of renewable energy as the new industrial revolution – demonstrating his overall commitment to the climate crisis.
ice and glaciers

What role does John Kerry serve today?

As of 2021, John Kerry has been offering his political expertise by serving as the first envoy for climate – a role designed to tackle climate change. As a result, the role requires the incumbent (currently John Jerry) to work closely with the Office of Global Change (EGC), Bureau of Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs (OES), and the State Department’s current staff and personnel.

One of the main goals as the Special Presidential Envoy’s team is to encourage greater engagement surrounding the climate change crisis and to elicit greater action and accountability.

Key responsibilities for the Special Presidential Envoy’s team include:

  • Ensuring adequate measures are in place to meet the standards depicted in the Paris Agreement & encouraging other countries to also work together to reduce their emissions and prevent from exceeding the 1.5 degree Celsius limit;
  • Working to implement adaptation measures and greater climate resiliency;
  • Seeking to implementing financial flows aligned with the current challenges of climate change;
  • Driving competitiveness for the creation of new clean energy;
  • Highlighting the importance of forgotten areas that remain affected by climate change – such as with the ocean, international shipping & transportation, and biodiversity.

👉 Biden appointing John Kerry as his special climate envoy was meant to further depict to the public Biden’s unwavering priority on fighting against climate change, though – the administration has received backlash for its seemingly hollow efforts.

Ultimately, John Kerry is considered a remarkable man to many despite his various political losses – as his story continues to inspire others how taking the road less traveled by doesn’t mean that you won’t find success later on in life.

What about Greenly? 

If reading this article about John Kerry, his story, and his views have made you interested in reducing your carbon emissions to further fight against climate change – Greenly can help you!

Breaking down the insight from political leaders like John Kerry can be overwhelming, but don’t worry – Greenly is here to help. Click here to schedule a demo to see how Greenly can help you find ways to improve energy efficiency and decrease the dependency on fossil fuels in your own company. 

Greenly can help you make an environmental change for the better, starting with a carbon footprint assessment to know how much carbon emissions your company produces.

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