Senator Kerrey Speaks to Delegates, Fields Questions
This evening, after the conclusion of Keystone XL Pipeline debate, the joint session of Boys’ & Girls’ State was treated to an address by former Senator Robert Kerrey.
Kerrey began his presentation by sharing a little about his past.
Kerrey was born in Lincoln, NE, attending Lincoln Northeast High School and the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. A Navy SEAL during the Vietnam War from 1966-1969, Kerrey was wounded in action, losing part of his leg. For his heroic service and sacrifice, Kerrey was awarded both the Congressional Medal of Honor and the Bronze Star. He moved back to Lincoln in 1969 to recover from his debilitating injury. He credits the American Legion and American Legion Auxiliary with putting his “life back together” during this painful and difficult time of loss. In 1973, Kerrey started a small business, which served as the springboard for his long career as a businessman and politician. He served as the 35th Governor of Nebraska from 1983 to 1987 and represented the State of Nebraska in the U.S. Senate from 1989 to 2001. Kerrey has most recently served as president of The New School, a distinguished university in New York, New York. Though he has not held public office since 2001, in February of this year, Kerrey announced his bid for the Senate seat currently held by the retiring Ben Nelson.
From these numerous trials and tribulations, Kerrey gained an incredible amount of life experience, wisdom, and perspective, which he shared with the delegates:
The measure of a man involves whether or not you let someone help you or love you.
“A true friend is one who helps, not just when it’s convenient, but also when it’s inconvenient.”
“I have a considerable amount of hope in our future based on what I see here this evening.”
When a delegate asked him about his greatest loss, Kerrey replied, “The physical loss [of my leg]. I have the capacity for sympathy now…The easiest day of your life was yesterday. Come to terms with how you deal with loss; don’t focus on the things you can’t do.”
When another delegate asked him about his views on government regulation, Kerrey replied, “I have a love-hate relationship with government regulations.”
About the ability of the government to create jobs, Kerry stated, “The only jobs a government can create are government jobs.”
When asked about his greatest achievement, Kerry said that he was very proud of his using “public power to help an individual fighting the bureaucracy.” As an example, he cited his role in the Normalization of Vietnam in 1989, a movement which returned American POWs and Vietnamese refugees to their respective homelands.
Another delegate asked him about why he chose to enter politics; Kerrey replied, “There are politics in any organization,” and went on to explain how a class he taught on the history of the Vietnam War inspired him to run for a seat in the Senate. The inspiration for his current bid for the Senate came from the Deficit Crisis and Social Security and Medicare instability, saying, “I think I know how to balance the budget.”
When another delegate asked him about his views on the Keystone XL Pipeline, Kerrey stated, “TransCanada made a terrible mistake by routing [the pipeline] over the [Ogallala] Aquifer, and enacting eminent domain to gain access to private lands.”
Concerning GLBTQ rights and marriage equality, Kerrey boldly stated, ” I believe that individuals are born gay or straight and are entitled to the same treatment [as heterosexual individuals].”
About Bi-Partisan cooperation, Kerrey said that, “you just gotta do it…you gotta be willing to make people in your party angry with you.”
About his morals, Kerrey said that he models his behavior on the Golden Rule.
The last, and possibly most profound, piece of wisdom Kerrey offered the delegates was the idea that, “there is nothing more powerful than human kindness.”
Overall, Senator Kerrey showed the strength and experience of his leadership, as well as his wisdom and humility, qualities that each Boys’ or Girls’ State delegate can put into practice into his or her daily lives in their roles as citizens and future leaders of our State and our Nation.