For a bit over a year now, we’ve been using the phrase “live love, teach peace, and fight unfairness wherever it exists” as a rallying cry and reminder of what we believe is at the heart of our work. Last month, we had an extraordinary opportunity to thank two men who have dedicated their lives to exactly that effort and to celebrate them as our heroes and inspiration.
At a benefit event hosted by Ambassador Elizabeth Bagley and arranged through a wonderful host committee led by Geri Critchley (our huge gratitude to them all!), Operation Respect’s Board of Directors presented resolutions recognizing former Secretary of State John Kerry and former Senator Harris Wofford for their dedication to peace and service.
Talk about inspirational legacies! These two giants have spent their lives fighting for civil rights, equity in education, and social justice.
In 1971, Secretary Kerry rose to national prominence after he returned from Vietnam, testified before Congress, and posed the profound question, “How do you ask a man to be the last man to die for a mistake?” Years later, he led the effort to establish the Youth Build program and the fight for health insurance for all children. While serving as Senator and Secretary of State, John Kerry represented the commonwealth of Massachusetts and our country with great dignity and made significant in roads to peace throughout the world.
Senator Wofford also devoted his career to peacemaking and public service and has been described as the most influential man you’ve never heard of. In 1962, he served in President John F. Kennedy’s administration as Special Assistant to the President for Civil Rights and he was a principal in the formation of the Peace Corps and in the creation of the Corporation for National and Community Service. Senator Wofford was a civil rights visionary marching, along with Peter, Paul and Mary, and Dr. Martin Luther King, from Selma to Montgomery and beyond. He also made peace among his colleagues, and is known for working across party lines to find common ground.
It was our honor to recognize Secretary Kerry and Senator Wofford and to thank them for their inspiration. Our spirits were lifted and filled with hope through their words and stories, and the evening culminated with Peter Yarrow leading us in song, weaving the sunshine out of the falling rain, and weaving the hope of a new tomorrow for us all!