"The Courage To Do What's Right"
The Kerry Committee (2002 Re-election)
May 29, 2002
This approximately 13-minute long video, produced for Sen. Kerry's 2002 re-election campaign, hints at a presidential campaign to come.  Brief testimonials about Kerry from selected national leaders, Massachusetts activists, and family members are interspersed between clips of Kerry speaking to an audience at a campaign-type event, Kerry speaking to the camera in his office, and narrated montages of Kerry in action. 

The video begins with Kerry's Vietnam experience.  It does not employ a clumsy, head-on approach to Kerry's service (he did after all earn the Silver Star, a Bronze Star, and three Purple Hearts), but rather takes a more philosophical tack, harking to his work on Vietnam Veterans Against the War.  Use of "60 Minutes" footage adds to the credibility of this section.  An unusual cut from the footage of young Kerry testifying before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in 1971 to a clip of Kerry at the campaign-type event some thirty years later neatly bridges the past and the present. 

The national leaders speaking on Kerry's behalf include Sen. Fritz Hollings (D-SC) vouching for Kerry's budget-mindedness [note that South Carolina is a key primary state], Sen. Max Cleland (D-GA), Marian Wright Edelman president of the Children's Defense Fund, and Deb Callahan, president of the League of Conservation Voters.  Massachusetts activists include Don Dubendorf, chair of Berkshire Connect, an economic development effort; Dorthy Stoneman, president of Somerville-based YouthBuild (Sen. Kerry was instrumental in securing funding for the program in 1991; see "The YouthBuild Story of Thanks"); and Ralph Cooper of the Veterans Benefits Clearinghouse in Roxbury.  Kerry's wife, Theresa Heinz, and daughter, Vanessa Kerry, provide glimpes of Kerry's human side.  Finally, towards the end of the video, Del Sandusky, who served with Kerry on the swift boat in Vietnam, recounts what that experience was like.

One can easily imagine this video playing at the Democratic National Convention in summer 2004, should Sen. Kerry become the nominee.

[Roar of Helicopter Blades] Kerry Voiceover: How do you ask a man to be the last man to die in Vietnam?  How do you ask a man to be the last man to die for a mistake?
Morley Safer: Whether you believe in the Vietnam War or not, there are few people in the country who were not moved by a demonstration in Washington four weeks ago by the Vietnam Veterans Against the War.  One young man caught the attention of the nation.  His name is John Kerry.  He came to national attention in his appearance before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. 
Young Kerry Testifying: We are here to ask [fade in music, which continues throughout], and we're here to ask vehemently, where are the leaders of our country?  Where is the leadership?  Where are they now that we, the men whom they sent off to war, have returned? These are commanders who have deserted their troops, and there is no more serious crime in the law of war.  The Army says they never leave their wounded...
Kerry campaign appearance: ...and the Marines say they never leave even their dead.  What we need are citizen soldiers in every walk of life who are prepared to say we're not going to leave any American behind.
Male Narrator: The 27-year old lieutenant who came home and spoke to a nation.  The Senator fighting to make a difference for people.  For John Kerry, it's always been the courage to stand up for what's right.
Kerry: I'm for jobs.  I want, I want every American to have the best job possible...  Will there be Social Security for the next generation?  Will we finally have health care accessible and affordable for every American?  My vision of America is a place where every kid has the opportunity to have the best education possible.  That's the only way you'll, you'll live out the American Dream.  We have to do it.
Male Narrator: Fighting for what matters.  That's what John Kerry does every day in the Senate.  The courage to take on Republican leaders when they tried to cut Social Security and Medicare; the courage to tackle budget deficits; fighting to pass the nation's first balanced budget law.
Sen. Fritz Hollings (South Carolina): He knows the value of a dollar.  He works right there to balance the budget.
Male Narrator: The courage to reach across party lines to improve education and put children first.  The co-author of a bipartisan education bill to recruit and keep good teachers and demand accountability in our schools.
Marian Wright Edelman, president, Children's Defense Fund: Senator Kerry is somebody who is deeply concerned about the future.  If you're deeply concerned about the future you have to be thinking ahead, you have to talk about investing in children.
Sen. Max Cleland (Georgia): When he stands up and speaks in the Senate, he speaks with great credibility.  When John Kerry speaks, people listen.
Male Narrator: They listened when he led the Senate fight to put 100,000 more police on America's streets, when he pushed fo a higher minimum wage, job training and expanded unemployment benefits, when as chairman he wrote a new tax law for small businesses that create jobs and help open the promise of the new economy.
Don Dubendorf, chair, Berkshire Connect: All business, he so-called new and the old economy, are going to have to change.  The Senator's understood that; the Senator's been ahead of those trends, and has been thoughtful about them.
Male Narrator: Staying ahead of the trends, demanding accountability, thinking outside the box.  Before most in government had heard of acid rain, John Kerry was leading the battle for clean air and water.  He's using that same vision today.  His 2020 energy plan demands better gas mileage for our cars and supplies 20 percent of America's energy needs through renewables by the year 2020.  That's a vision that makes sense for America, and a plan that makes us energy independent without drilling in pristine places.
Deb Callahan, president, League of Conservation Voters: He's informed.  He comes to the table, he knows what he's talking about, he thinks about what's right, and then he engages to make sure that what happens is what needs to happen.
Kerry: The Arctic Wildlife Refuge is not going to make one drop of oil's difference in the price of oil globally nor is it going to change our dependency on foreign oil, because there isn't enough there to do that.
Theresa Heinz: Environment I think was the thing that got us together, and there's a kind of a commonality of purpose.  I think that's what drew us, you know, together.
Kerry: Theresa does this extraordinary work with environment, with schools, with education.  I think we're both motivated by that sense of making life better.
Theresa: It's about people; it's about people's well-being, whether it is dealing with children and development and education, whether it is dealing with crime, whether it is dealing with prescription drugs or environment.  All of this is about people's lives and their security and their well-being.
Male Narrator: For John Kerry it's about making life better and making a difference for people  Like YouthBuild.
Dorothy Stoneman, president, YouthBuild: Without Senator Kerry, there wouldn't be a YouthBuild program.  YouthBuild engages young people in rebuilding their communities while going back to school to get their GED or high school diploma.
Jackie DeJesus, YouthBuild Member: Before YouthBuild there was nothing for me.  I didn't have any goals; I didn't have any dreams; I didn't think I had a future.
Jordan McClain, YouthBuild Member: YouthBuild gave me a structure.  They showed me how to be a leader, how to lead by example, not by words.
Stoneman: Senator Kerry saw something that he believed in and he said I'm gong to make this happen for more people.
McClain: Without him there probably wouldn't be a YouthBuild right now.  I wouldn't be sitting here speaking right now.  Who knows where I'd be at right now.  I could be in jail or a black felon, but now with Senator Kerry fighting for YouthBuild, gave me the opportunity to change my life around.
Male Narrator: Changing lives.  A commitment to service.  Values John Kerry learned at an early age.
Kerry: Both my parents had an enormous influence on me.  My dad signed up for the Army Air Corps in its earliest days.  He wanted to serve; he thought it was a responsibility and an obligation.  They just both gave back.  They taught me that you have to be part of the community around you.  I just think I picked it up from them.
Male Narrator: And family has stayed an important part of his life.
Kerry: Kids are without doubt, I think both of us would say this, the best thing either of us have ever done.  I mean your kids are you.  They're what you leave.  They're your blood, your guts, your late nights, your hopes.
Vanessa Kerry: My sister and I did play sports and my father was remarkably dedicated.  He was at a lot of our games.  It was really funny 'cause we would look up in the middle of our game and we'd see this man in you know a huge jacket, it'd be sort of the end of fall and he was in a huge jacket and a bright orange hunting cap and we would realize you know that 6'4 guy was our dad and we you know at the game, the game would end, and he'd sort of come running out with his arms out for a huge hug and we sort of bypass until he took the orange hat off.
Theresa: And now of course to my great chagrin [laughs] he learned the guitar.  [Kerry strums some chords].  And it's hard to hear it.  You could [can?] forgive your child for learning the violin and getting flat notes and you know a mother has to cope with that, but have your husband pick a tune [Kerry continues strumming, quietly says "Oops."] it's really tough.  John loves challenges period.  And if they're fast ones even better.  If it flies and moves fast and has a little bit of an edge he'll do it.
Kerry: Well I love sports.  And well I mean I play hockey because it's fun.  You just have good camaraderie.  It's a challenge.  There's a little bit of gladiator in all of us I think.  Wayne Gretsky was asked why he was such a good hockey player and he said you know most guys go to where the puck is and I go to where the puck is going to be.  And that's really itself a statement about the issues you pick to fight on.
Male Narrator: John Kerry's fights.  The prosecutor who created on of the first rape counseling and victim's assistance units in Massachusetts and who eliminated a backlog of 11,000 cases and delivered justice on time.  The lieutenant governor who won national action on air and water pollution and who has always fought to hold government accountable.
Sen. Hollings: He's balanced, he's moderate, and he's got the courage.
Male Narrator: The Senator who had the courage to help expose Iran Contra and Oliver North's illegal war, who helped develop a plan for peace and democracy in Nicaragua, and put a spotlight on General Noriega's ties to drug trafficking, who warned about the dangers of terrorism long before September 11th, and helped investigate money laundering schemes that fund terrorist groups.  Quite simply as our nation faces unprecedented threats to our national security, few American leaders have the knowledge and foreign affairs experience of John Kerry, a depth of experience that led to a full-scale investigation into soldiers missing in action.  The veteran who worked side by side with John McCain to help bring closure to a difficult war.  It was vets fighting for vets in this country who really made a difference in those early years in recognizing post-Vietnam stress syndrome, in recognizing Agent Orange ultimately, in recognizing the need to upgrade VA hospitals.  And it was John Kerry who took the voice of veterans to the floor of the United States Senate.
Ralph Cooper, Veteran's Advocate: He knows what it is when we say we need help, but not a hand-out.
Kerry: And what really struck me was, if we're treating people who ore the uniform that way and it's hard to get it done, think how hard it is to get it done for people who don't even have that kind of connection.
Sen. Cleland: He's a fighter; he doesn't give up.  I attribute this to his military training and having to fight for his life.
Del Sandusky, Vietnam Veteran: I was close to the end of my second tour.  John Kerry came on board after the first or second patrol.  We knew that you know this was somebody special.
Male Narrator: After graduating from Yale, John Kerry could have gone anywhere.  He chose the Mekong Delta, commanded a swift boat on the rivers of Vietnam.  Lieutenant Kerry earned the Bronze Star, three Purple Hearts and the Silver Star for heroism in combat.
One patrol we had to go up a river and take some corpsmen and some medical supplies.  Anytime you could come under attack in an ambush or whatever.  And when you were out, you had to be on your toes, you had to be awake, alert, and scared to stay alive.  While we were up the river, the Viet Cong had planted a mine. It nailed the first boat.  Lieutenant Kerry immediately took charge.  We conducted a firefight.  And you've got four boats running around you know duht-duht-duht-duht-duht you know and mortars and everything else and it was really a hell of a suppressive fire.  Lieutenant Kerry held on and we finished the operation enough to get the boat out.  We all loved him.  We all followed him you know no matter what his orders or directions because we knew that he had unfailing instinct and unchallengable leadership.
Kerry: There's a sense after Vietnam that every other day is extra.  Every day is extra.  And so you live it to the fullest; you feel a sense of empowerment and a permission to say the things that are important and not and just let the chips fall where they may.
Male Narrator: Every once in a while someone comes along with the courage and the character to make a difference.
Callahan: He's somebody who understands the big picture.
Chris Gregory, Vietnam Veteran: He has character.  He's true to what he believes.
Linda McMahon, Registered Nurse: When he said he was going off to do something, he went off and he did it.
McClain: To me Senator Kerry's a strong man.
Frank Raffa, Worcester Firefighter: There's no question about it.  He cares.
Edelman: He's articulate and smart and he stays with things.
Sen. Cleland: When I think John Kerry, two words: Too tall.
Vanessa Kerry: Goofy, and you know kind of a prankster.
Sandusky: He's really a hard-charger.  He sticks that jaw out you know, look out.
Cooper: He is the real leader.
Kerry: I would like to see our country challenge itself the way President Kennedy challenged us in the 1960s when he said we're going to go to the moon.  We need to go to the moon here on earth.  We need to challenge ourselves to use our ingenuity. 

The future is really a question of choices.  Choices about education, fixing Social Security, having adequate Medicare, providing prescription drugs for seniors.  We can do these things.  That's what it's all about, that's the fight that we're involved in. 

So I'm asking you as you go out of here--I don't care what area it's in, I don't care what party it is, if it's no party, but help us make this country and this world stronger and safer.  That's our challenge, that's your challenge.  Together we have to do this.  [Music up].