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Andre Heinz, Vanessa Kerry & Alexandra Kerry Address Dem. Convention

Aired July 29, 2004 - 21:21   ET


WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Andre Heinz, he's the older son -- the stepson of John Kerry, the son of wife, Teresa Heinz Kerry. He's going to be coming on first. He'll be speaking. Let's listen in.

In 1995, John Kerry became part of my life when he married my mother, and it didn't take me very long to see that he is an incredible man. I've seen him as a husband, a father, a public servant, a sportsman, and a stepfather one could only dream of, while he sees me as the person that I am.

What does it say about someone who is able to be all those things? What must he possess to excel at every one of them?

He must be loving, he must be devoted, he must be humble, compassionate, decisive, and a peacemaker, especially if you know my brothers and sisters.


When John Kerry came to our lives, we knew we would be stronger at home because he commands resect and he knows how to give it.

This is the John Kerry I know: my stepfather, my friend, and the next president of the United States.


Just kidding. It's only Chris.


My brother and I now have the pleasure to introduce two remarkable people we have grown to know and love and admire over these last nine years, our two sisters, Alex and Vanessa Kerry.


As someone who knows all 6 foot 4 inches of my dad best -- or as we've long joked in the family 6'6" if you count the hair...


... I'm here to share some secrets. Over the years, I've come to know him in many ways: through silly moments, when he laughs with his head thrown back and his shoulders rocking, through sad moments, such as when my grandmother lay dying. And also through warm moments, when he enveloped me in that "Dad" hug that overwhelmed me with a feeling of safety.

People ask why Alex and I are so close to our dad, especially since he loved to mortify us by showing up at our sports games in a bright orange hunting hat and seemed to cheer just a little too loudly.


As I've thought about it, though, I realize it's because he and our mother have given us great gifts: a willing ear, unwavering respect for our choices and unconditional love.

During the course of this campaign, I've heard people talk about John Kerry the father and John Kerry the public servant as if they were two people divided. But I can assure you, they are truly one and the same. I know his values. They're revealed in quiet 11 p.m. phone calls of frustration from what he's seen at work, or the simple reminder that we never turn our backs on those in need.


What drives my father to serve is exactly what has made this public servant, the father I'm proud of, look up to and love.

I would like to give you all an inside scoop into December. I traveled with my father almost every day of that long, cold month. And I promise you there was not one moment when he doubted his ability to win, not one week when he lost his fight...


He was convinced when others were not. He had the courage to take risks -- ahem -- our house...


... and to fight for his beliefs when others may have given up. He never wavered, he never faltered and he stayed the course.


In that snowy month at a Derry, New Hampshire, chili feed, my father looked at the packed crowd and said, "I want you to look at my heart, my mind and my gut and ask yourself, "What kind of president will I be?'" It is an important question. What will guide the conscience of a man in his toughest hours, amid the hardest decisions?

Here's my answer. My father loves this country and is ready to lead it.

(APPLAUSE) He believes in challenging...


He believes in challenging oneself to dream and to follow. He believes that fear is limiting, while determination, innovation and optimism will allow us to surpass our own best hopes. And at my father's core is integrity.


I was reminded of this one fall day two years ago. My grandmother was ailing, no longer able to leave her bed. She loved the autumn, and my father wanted to find a way to bring the foliage to her.

Together, we devised a plan that involved copper wire, collected leaves and a little imagination. I watched my 6'4" father hunch over a tiny 8" copper tree. And I watched the focus and the love with which he twisted the wire into a trunk, teasing out the branches and finally weaving the foliage into a rounded treetop. And I noticed the gleam in my grandmother's eye as her son brought her a little bit of autumn to her bedside.

A little while later, he told her his plan to run for president. And with a sigh of relief, she said, "It's about time."


And then she smiled, and said, "Johnny, remember integrity." But it was not so much a reminder as a value she knew her son shared, a statement of a need for the times we face today.

We are in a season of great possibility and great hope. And for me that possibility now sits on a tree on my father's desk.

The leaves are a little worn, but the message is still strong. It is one of promise and hope, of a willing ear and unconditional love, of unwavering respect, and the most important quality which makes all else possible.

And I assure all of you it is in my father's guts: integrity.


And now, I'd like to introduce my sister, Alexandra Kerry.


Well, it is an incredible experience to be here tonight. And I have to admit that it hasn't been easy to sift through years of memories about my father and find those few that might best tell you who John Kerry really is. So let me just begin with one July day when Vanessa and I were kids. It's a silly story, but it's true, and it's one of my favorite memories about my father. We were standing on a dock waiting for a boat to take us on a summer trip. Vanessa, the scientist, had packed all of her animals, including her favorite hamster. Our overzealous golden retriever got tangled in his leash and knocked the hamster cage off the dock. We watched as Licorice, the unlucky hamster, as he became termed, bubbled down into a watery doom.


Now, that might have been the end of the story, a mock funeral at sea and some tears for a hamster lost. But my dad jumped in...


... grabbed an oar, fished the cage from the water, hunched over the soggy hamster and began to administer CPR.



Now, there are still to this day, there are some reports of mouth-to-mouth, but I admit that's probably a trick of memory.


The hamster was never quite right after that, but he lived.



Now, like I said, it may sound silly and we still laugh about it today, but it was serious. And that's what mattered to my father.

Years later, when I was driving back to college with him, brooding as only a nineteen-year-old can, my father told me to look outside the car. He said, "Ali, this is a beautiful day. Feel the sun. Look at the country you live in."

The passion of his words makes me remember them, still, ten years later. He said to me: "I know men your exact age, who thought they had the same future you have, whose families were never born, who never again walked on American soil. They don't feel the sun.

"Ali," he said, "If there's something you don't like, something that needs to be changed, change it. But never, ever give up."


"Remember," he said, "Remember that you are alive and that you are an American. Those two things make you the luckiest little girl in the world."

(APPLAUSE) Even now, I look back at that and I think about what my dad's been through in his life. Because he's quiet about those things, my sister and I had to sneak upstairs when we were kids and read his letters from Vietnam. Who knew a 23 year old could have seen so much, so young?

To every little girl, her father is a hero. And it's taken some getting used to that my father actually is one.


And it's not just in the obvious ways: Because he likes to listen as much as he likes to talk; because he's studious in the way someone is when everything in the whole world interests them; because he leads by example; because he trusts people with the truth and doesn't play to our baser instincts.


And let me tell you this, when he loves you -- as he loves me and my sister and his family, as he loves the men who fought beside him -- there is no sacrifice too great.

And when he cares for you, as he cares for this country, there are no surer hands, and no wiser heart.

And so when he teaches you, by the life he has led, as he has taught me and my sister all of our lives, there is no better lesson: that the future of this country is not only his life's work; it's mine and yours. It is all of our life's work, it's all of ours.


And if we want our children to breathe clean air and drink clean water, if we want them to control their own bodies, if we want them...


... if we want them to protect the liberties and opportunities that are our birthrights, we must be involved in the struggle. Because on that day, in that car, my father was right: We are the luckiest people in the world. We walk on this soil. We feel this sun.

And we are Americans.


And now, it is our great pleasure, and it is our great, great pride to introduce our father: John Kerry.




UNIDENTIFIED MALE: John Kerry saved my life and I'm forever grateful.

TERESA HEINZ KERRY, WIFE OF SENATOR JOHN KERRY: He really cares about fairness.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He's got a big heart.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He's a tough customer.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: John's got a very deep sense of family.

MORGAN FREEMAN, ACTOR: John Kerry was born at Fitzsimmons Military Hospital in Colorado in December of 1943. The world was at war, and the Kerry family, like millions of others, was woven into the very fabric of the war effort.

John's father, Richard, was a test pilot, flying C-47s in the Army Air Corps. His mother, Rosemary, was a community leader, who also dedicated herself to raising her children.

DIANA KERRY, JOHN KERRY'S SISTER: John was a good big brother. He was somebody who looked out for the rest of us, but also set a pace that was exciting to try and keep up with.

FREEMAN: Their family made their home in Massachusetts, and then later in Washington D.C. John's father became a diplomat overseas.

SEN. JOHN KERRY (D-MA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: He loved languages. He enjoyed cultures and history.

My mother was 50 years a Girl Scout leader, and was incredibly proud of the pins she got for those 50 years of service. She was my den mother as a Cub Scout. And they both just gave back. And I think their example of citizenship really had a profound impact on the whole family.

FREEMAN: In high school, John's height shot up to 6'4'', quickly making him a top weapon on the hockey and lacrosse teams. His young mind blossomed, finding many interests, including joining a rock band called the Electras.

J. KERRY: It was a great way to meet girls, made a little record.

A. KERRY: There's your dad in some old hair cut.

V. KERRY: And he was like, yes I was in a rock band. And Alex and I we were like, OK. It's OK. We were trying to get into it.

J. KERRY: There's talk of a reunion.

FREEMAN: In 1962, John was accepted at Yale.

DAVID THORNE, FRIEND: I was really struck by his commitment to what he wanted to be. He wanted to be in public life. He wanted to be in public service.

FREEMAN: Talk on campus focused increasingly, of course, on Vietnam. John Kerry was one of those who chose to serve.

CAMERON KERRY, BROTHER OF JOHN KERRY: One of the things that John got from my parents was this strong sense of duty. And, just, it was what you do. And you didn't shirk the service.

FREEMAN: He entered the Navy in 1966 and requested deployment to Vietnam.

J. KERRY: I was skipper of what's called a swift boat, which is about a 50-foot gun boat.

REV. DAVID ALSTON, VIETNAM VETERAN: John lays his life on the line right alongside us. Going into battle knowing that this man was willing to take a bullet made you respect him.

JIM RASSMANN, VIETNAM VETERAN: We got sent up these narrow canals with foliage up to the banks on both sides, plenty of places for people to hide.

GENE THORSON, VIETNAM VETERAN: He was always under pressure. After a while, this takes a toll on a person. Are you going to come back?

J. KERRY: There's a great similarity to some of what the guys in Iraq and Afghanistan are going through now, the kinds of patrols you go out on. You're waiting. You hold your breath. You think you're going to be ambushed.

RASSMANN: We had gone up a canal. And the boat to our left hit a mine. Simultaneously, we came under fire from both banks. John was wounded and I was blown off the boat into the water.

By the time I surfaced, the boats were gone and I was all by myself. John turned around and all of them came back for me. I grabbed hold of a net and started climbing upside down and couldn't get over the lip of the bow. So I was just hanging there. And all these rounds kept coming in. And John ran up and dropped down on his hands and knees and pulled me over. Had he not come out on that bow like that, I would be dead.

FREEMAN: For this, John received the Bronze Star. He was also decorated with a Silver Star for gallantry and three Purple Hearts for wounds he sustained.

J. KERRY: I am alive today through the grace of a higher being. Every day is extra. And that reassures you in taking on a risk or in standing up for the truth or in doing something that's difficult.

I at that point had come back against the war. I felt that the government had not been truthful with the American people. And I felt that the war was not what it was described as. And so I felt a great sense of waste and loss. I became an activist, putting my passion into ending the war. FREEMAN: As a 27-year-old newlywed, John delivered a powerful argument before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

C. KERRY: He just talked in stark terms from the heart.

J. KERRY: Where are the leaders of our country?

RASSMANN: He said things that a lot of us were feeling.

J. KERRY: These are commanders who have deserted their troops.

RASSMANN: We knew by this time that the war was a mistake. John was the one with the courage to come out and say it.

FREEMAN: His service behind him, John turned his attention to the home front. He enrolled in Boston College Law School and, after graduation, found a new mission.

THORNE: There's another part of John, which is a tough prosecutorial side, too. He was a tough prosecutor. He went after white-collar crime with a vengeance. It's part of his competitive nature to go get the bad guys.

FREEMAN: In 1984, John was elected junior senator of Massachusetts. He was to become known as a foreign policy expert. Working closely with members of both parties, he put America's needs before politics.

As John pursued these important issues, he made a practice of commuting home on the weekends to be with his daughters, determined to remain a good father even as he worked hard to become a good senator.

A. KERRY: It's funny. You always hear about these stories about politicians who don't have time for their families. And I have never really understood that, because my dad always made time for us.

J. KERRY: I cried like a baby when they were born, both of them. Being in a room while a child is being born, and you're not sure, wow, where's the breathing and is it up or is it down? And you're kind of following it. It's a miracle.

FREEMAN: In 1995, he married Teresa Heinz, widow of Republican Senator John Heinz. Teresa came to the marriage with three sons and, like so many other Americans, John and Teresa have worked hard to make a success of their new blended family.

J. KERRY: Teresa is a bedrock. She is as straightforward and as direct and as honest as anybody that I've ever met.

TERESA HEINZ KERRY, WIFE OF SENATOR JOHN KERRY: He comes in and if he's late, he's late. My husband who is late.


HEINZ KERRY: And if he's tired, he's tired. And if I'm grouchy, I'm grouchy, you know? And I drive him crazy, too. (LAUGHTER)

HEINZ KERRY: I was born in Africa. And being an American to me is something that I've earned and I became. Being an American is something that I have to work every day to deserve, the freedom and rights that so many people in the world can only even dream of.

FREEMAN: As a husband, father, soldier and senator, John Kerry has spent a lifetime helping others achieve this incomparable American dream.

J. KERRY: I decided to run for president because I was frustrated. I'm confident I can make America safer. And I want it safer for my kids, for the world, for the future. My promise is to lead our country, to bring people together and take us to a better place.

FREEMAN: Time and again, John Kerry has been there for our nation, a soldier who understands the importance of peace, a leader who knows how to listen, a father dedicated to the children of our nation, a man devoted to our country's remarkable promise.



BLITZER: That was the Democratic Party video -- the film of John Kerry. It was produced, put together by among others, Steven Spielberg, the narration, the actor Morgan Freeman.


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