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February 12, 2014 AT 5:41 AM
As he travels the world, Secretary of State John Kerry often talks about his father, a Foreign Service Officer, and the family's postings in Europe during Kerry's childhood. But he rarely mentions his mother, at least not until today. At a formal State Department lunch for France's President Francois Hollande, Kerry got personal about his mother. Returning to Paris after the war with her young son, Kerry described one of his earliest memories: "Holding her hand and walking through the bombed-out and burned-down remains of her family’s home, which had been used as a headquarters by the Germans, and then in retreat as Patton came through, they burned it and bombed it."