U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry is a familiar face to world leaders, an elder statesman of the Democratic Party and former chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
The son of a foreign service officer, Kerry graduated from Yale University in 1966 and served an abbreviated tour of duty in Vietnam, where he was awarded two combat medals and three Purple Hearts. After returning home, he became a nationally recognized anti-war spokesman.
Kerry, who received a law degree from Boston College in 1976, was elected lieutenant governor of his home state of Massachusetts in 1982. He was elected to the United States Senate in 1984 and earned a reputation as a left-center lawmaker who backed free trade, environmental protection, and an expansive U.S. foreign policy.
Kerry served in the Senate until February 1, when he was sworn in as secretary of state.
Kerry won the 2004 Democratic presidential nomination, spending much of his campaign criticizing his incumbent opponent, George W. Bush, for his administration's handling of the Iraq war. While initially voting to support the 2003 Iraq invasion, he later voted against military aid for the country, saying Mr. Bush misused the trust of the American people and diminished U.S. standing across the world.