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John Kerry’s brother recalls 1971 hearing

John Kerry

AP File Photo

John Kerry testified about Vietnam before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in 1971.

WASHINGTON - The first time he witnessed his brother John testify before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, as a recently-returned combat veteran protesting the Vietnam War, Cameron Kerry was 20 years old.

On Thursday, nearly 42 years later, the younger Kerry was on hand again, this time to watch his brother testify at his confirmation hearing to be secretary of state.

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“I was there in 1971,” Cameron Kerry, now the general counsel of the US Department of Commerce, remarked to a reporter outside the Senate hearing room.

Asked if he ever imagined this, he responded, “I imagined a lot of things. He’s been on a big stage for a long time.”

But he said he has spent a good bit of time in recent days wondering what their father Richard, a career Foreign Service officer, would think if he were alive.

“I’ve thought about that often. I haven’t quite figured out what my Dad would have said,” the younger brother said. “He would have been extraordinarily proud and touched beyond words.”

Others who were on hand when Senator Kerry came to national prominence in the same witness chair in April 1971 were not on hand Thursday. His friend and former brother-in-law David Thorne is ambassador to Rome, while an aide said the Kerry’s sister Margaret was at work at the US Mission to the United Nations, where she has worked for years.

Bryan Bender can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @GlobeBender
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