The son of an Army Air Corps serviceman, Kerry was born in Aurora, Colorado. He attended boarding school in Massachusetts and New Hampshire and went on to graduate from Yale University class of 1966, where he majored in political science. He enlisted in the Naval Reserve in 1966 and, during 1968-1969, served a four-month tour of duty in South Vietnam as officer-in-charge (OIC) of a Swift Boat. For that service he was awarded several combat medals that include the Silver Star, Bronze Star, and three Purple Hearts. After returning to the United States, Kerry joined the Vietnam Veterans Against the War in which he served as a nationally recognized spokesperson and as an outspoken opponent of the Vietnam war. During that period, he appeared before the Senate Committee on Foreign Affairs where he deemed his superiors to be "war criminals".
After graduating from Boston College Law School, Kerry worked as an Assistant District Attorney and co-founded a private firm. He served as Lieutenant Governor of Massachusetts under Michael Dukakis from 1983 to 1985, where he worked on an early forerunner to the national Clean Air Act. He won a tight Democratic primary in 1984 for the U.S. Senate and was sworn in the following January. On the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, he led a series of hearings from 1987 to 1989 which were a precursor to the Iran � Contra affair. He was an early backer of the 2003 invasion of Iraq, but became a strong opponent of the subsequent war.
Kerry based his 2004 presidential campaign on opposition to the Iraq War. He and his running mate Senator John Edwards lost by 34 electoral votes. Since then, he has established the Keeping America's Promise PAC.
On August 9, 2011, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid appointed Kerry to the United States Congress Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction.