Kerry’s First Day As U.S. Secretary of State

Posted February 4th, 2013 at 8:55 pm (UTC+0)

John Kerry, the new U.S. Secretary of State, greets his fellow diplomats at the State Department Monday, Feb. 4, 2013, as he begin his new job. Photo: AP

He Talks About His Boyhood Bicycle Ride Behind Iron Curtain

Much has been made of the new U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry’s familiarity with the Foreign Service as the son of a former diplomat.

In his first day at the State Department, he spoke about the challenges of Foreign Service families “who have to uproot kids and uproot families and move from school to school and struggle with those difficulties.”

But Kerry has not always been so keenly aware of difficulties of diplomatic protocols, especially as a 12-year-old in Berlin.

Moving to Germany with his family in 1954, Kerry said he used to ride his bicycle up and down the Kurfurstendamm, and past the burned-out Reichstag and the Brandenburg Gate.

Secretary of State John Kerry shows his new colleagues at the State Department his first diplomatic passport. Photo: AP

One day he used his diplomatic passport to cross into the East Sector, the Russian sector, where “I really noticed the difference between the East and West. There were very few people. They were dressed in dark clothing. They kind of held their heads down. I noticed all this. There was no joy in those streets.”

“And when I came back, I felt this remarkable sense of relief and a great lesson about the virtue of freedom and the virtue of the principles and ideals that we live by and that drive us. I was enthralled.”

His father, not so much.

“I got a tongue-lashing. I was told I could’ve been an international incident. He could’ve lost his job. And my passport,” he said raising a faded green diplomatic passport, “this very passport, was promptly yanked. And I was summarily grounded. Anyway, lessons learned.”

“If the tabloids today knew I had done that, I can see the headlines that say, “Kerry’s Early Communist Connections,” something like that. That’s the world we live in, folks.”

Living overseas as a boy was a great adventure, Kerry says. And 57 years later, he begins what he expects will be another great adventure at the State Department.

“What other job can you have where you get up every day and advance the cause of nation and also keep faith with the ideals of your country on which it is founded and most critically, meet our obligations to our fellow travelers on this planet?”

“That’s as good as it gets,” he told employees at the State Department. “And I’m proud to be part of it with you. So now let’s get to work.”



4 responses to “Kerry’s First Day As U.S. Secretary of State”

  1. […] few people. They were dressed in dark clothing. They kind of held their heads down. Read more on Voice of America (blog) Other readers also read thisDesmond Tutu Blasts ANC South African Gov’t as Worse Than […]

  2. Patti Berry says:

    So, do you understand why it is important NOT to push for Obama’s so cherished form of government? If it proceeds “FORWARD” we too will be dressed in dark, with no joy…

  3. "Big" Dave Fetterman says:

    To: Mr. John Kerry-U.S. SEC.STATE; Sir, were you speaking in “Code” when you mentioned “Fellow Travelers”…..”On this Planet?” I have read and/or heard the word-combination used-above to imply/define “Communist agents,” during “The Cold War!” Mr. Secretary, certainly, that is Not what you intended to imply; as an X-POTUS Candidate and U.S. Senator… Seriously.
    With Respect, Mr.D.Fetterman “Honorably Discharged” Veteran, BA…

Scott Stearns

Scott Stearns

Scott Stearns is VOA’s State Department correspondent. He has worked as VOA’s Dakar Bureau Chief, White House correspondent, and Nairobi Bureau Chief since beginning his career as a freelance reporter in the Liberian civil war. He has written for the BBC, UPI, the Associated Press, The Jerusalem Post, and The Economist. Scott has a Bachelors and Masters in Journalism from Northwestern University.



February 2013
« Jan   Mar »