John Kerry conducts the Boston Pops!

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On December 13, 2010, two days after his birthday, Senator John Kerry was celebrated at Symphony Hall in Boston. The occasion was a tribute to JK's years of service -- his 25 years in the U.S. Senate and 45 years of service to our country since he first enlisted in the Navy: years of service as a public servant, but also as an environmentalist, anti-war protester, and concerned citizen. The evening was a fundraiser for the Senator's campaign fund, which he uses not only for his own campaigns, but also to help other Democratic candidates and causes.

Symphony Hall was packed that night with JK's supporters, friends and family, but it felt like a very intimate and relaxed gathering. The Boston Pops gave us a glorious Christmas concert, with their signature arrangements of popular carols and holiday music; James Taylor played a soulful set; and Peter Yarrow and Noel Paul Stookey remembered singing at protests and events with JK going back to the beginning, before showing us that they are still capable of rousing a crowd to the heights of inspiration and emotion. It was wonderful to see the Kerry family relaxing at their table, without the formality required at a more official event. Vicki Kennedy was sitting with the Kerrys and everyone in the hall was enjoying the concert to the fullest. One of the highlights of the evening was the entrance into the hall of Kerry's swiftboat crew, along with Senator Max Cleland. JK hadn't been told they were coming and he was genuinely moved by their presence.

The best part of the evening, though -- and I think I can speak for everyone who was there -- was the final portion. JK and Teresa had gone up onstage and JK had given his heartfelt thanks to the performers, Keith Lockhart, the Pops orchestra, everyone who had organized the event, and everyone in attendance, particularly his brothers-in-arms, and then Keith Lockhart spoke a few words and presented him with a special engraved baton. JK introduced Vicki Kennedy in the audience and dedicated what followed to Teddy Kennedy, who had performed the services of "conductor" in irrepressible fashion many times. Then he mounted the conductor's podium and with a giant grin full of mischief and joy, he proceeded to "conduct" the hell out of The Stars and Stripes Forever! It was a hilarious homage to Teddy and clearly directed with love and good memories to Vicki, who was visibly moved. It was fun to watch his daughters reacting -- Alexandra was recording it on a videocamera and Vanessa was falling over laughing. A very sweet moment to wrap up a very happy evening.