Thomas M. Menino, 1942–2014

tom menino

Photograph by Bill Brett/The Boston Globe/Getty

Nineteen years had gone by since I first spoke from that stage as mayor of Boston, since I said, ‘I’m not a fancy talker,’ since I called the roll of my Hyde Park ghosts, since in my mind’s eye I saw my kid self chasing JFK’s limo toward the last rally of that long-ago campaign. Nineteen years. I still could not get over my rise, one of the most unlikely stories in American politics. Maybe you feel the same way. How did this guy do it? I haven’t a clue. No. That’s not right. I have one clue.

America in my years was still a democratic society. A Harry Truman, a Ronald Reagan, a Bill Clinton, a Barack Obama, even a Tom Menino could rise from humble circumstances to the top. I made the most of my tryout as acting mayor. I showed I could do the job. I had a chance. I hope we can remain a country where people like me have a chance.”

—Thomas M. Menino, reflecting on his March 28, 2013, farewell speech at Faneuil Hall, in Mayor for a New America.