• Leigh Gerstenberger

Every Day Is Extra


Recently I had the opportunity to hear former Secretary of State and United States Senator John Kerry speak. While I did not vote for Kerry in 2004 and had not followed his career very closely, I came away from his presentation with a deep respect for him and his service to our country over the past 50 years.


Even though Kerry served, two tours of duty in Vietnam and returned home with a Silver Star for gallantry in service, a Bronze Star with combat “V” for valorous service and three purple hearts, I was struck by his humility.


During his political career he served as a prosecutor and then Lt. Governor for the state of Massachusetts before being elected U.S. Senator in 2004, an office he held for 28 years.

Probably the best example of his self-deprecating style was when he described himself as having been the “Silver Medalist” in the 2004 Presidential Election.


With all of his accomplishments and even though he’s been married to one of the wealthiest women in the world, Teresa Heinz (widow of his former senate colleague and friend John Heinz) since 1995, I was struck by the fact that John Kerry doesn’t take himself too seriously.


That being said, he was very serious about the work that he’s done for the country he’s served. Listening to Kerry share his observations on service to our country since entering the military in 1966 I came away with a sense of gratitude for not just his service but for the amount of hard work and effort that is involved in building consensus across a spectrum that houses individuals with differing political points of view and cultural orientations.


As Secretary of State Kerry was instrumental in negotiating the Iran Nuclear agreement and the Paris Agreement on Climate Change. Regardless of what you may think about either of these accomplishments I came away with a deeper appreciation for what is required to build relationships that will result in the possibility of reaching agreement on difficult issues and problems.


Several years ago, I came across an expression which I frequently refer to when someone asks me how my day is going. My response is often, “Life’s good no matter what…and if you don’t believe me try skipping a day!”


Kerry’s coined a phrase that makes this sentiment even more succinct, “Every day is extra”, a comment that is regularly shared among the men with whom he served in uniform when they greet and bid farewell to one another.


No matter where we find ourselves on the spectrum of political ideology, “Every day is extra” is a good reminder for us all at how short our time with one another is, so let’s make the most of it.

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