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US Sen. John Kerry tours Massachusetts before becoming secretary of state

  • U.S. Sen. John F. Kerry, D-Mass., left, greets well-wishers at the YWCA in Springfield, Mass., Thursday, Jan. 31, 2013, during his farewell tour of the state. Kerry will be sworn in as secretary of state on Friday.  (AP Photo/Springfield Republican, Michael S. Gordon)

    U.S. Sen. John F. Kerry, D-Mass., left, greets well-wishers at the YWCA in Springfield, Mass., Thursday, Jan. 31, 2013, during his farewell tour of the state. Kerry will be sworn in as secretary of state on Friday. (AP Photo/Springfield Republican, Michael S. Gordon) Purchase photo reprints »

  • U.S. Sen. John F. Kerry, D-Mass., left, speaks at the YWCA in Springfield, Mass., Thursday, Jan. 31, 2013, during his farewell tour of the state. Kerry will be sworn in as secretary of state on Friday. Alongside Kerry are state Rep. Richard E. Neal, center, and YouthBuild USA founder and CEO Dorothy L. Stoneman, right. (AP Photo/Springfield Republican, Michael S. Gordon)

    U.S. Sen. John F. Kerry, D-Mass., left, speaks at the YWCA in Springfield, Mass., Thursday, Jan. 31, 2013, during his farewell tour of the state. Kerry will be sworn in as secretary of state on Friday. Alongside Kerry are state Rep. Richard E. Neal, center, and YouthBuild USA founder and CEO Dorothy L. Stoneman, right. (AP Photo/Springfield Republican, Michael S. Gordon) Purchase photo reprints »

  • U.S. Sen. John F. Kerry waves to crowd as he arrives at the College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, Mass., for his "Thank You" event Thursday, Jan. 31, 2013. Kerry was in Worcester thanking constituents for sending him to Washington for the past 28 years. Kerry, the 2004 Democratic presidential nominee, will end his five terms as senator Friday when he resigns to become secretary of state. (AP Photo/WORCESTER TELEGRAM & GAZETTE,

    U.S. Sen. John F. Kerry waves to crowd as he arrives at the College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, Mass., for his "Thank You" event Thursday, Jan. 31, 2013. Kerry was in Worcester thanking constituents for sending him to Washington for the past 28 years. Kerry, the 2004 Democratic presidential nominee, will end his five terms as senator Friday when he resigns to become secretary of state. (AP Photo/WORCESTER TELEGRAM & GAZETTE, Purchase photo reprints »

  • U.S. Sen. John F. Kerry, D-Mass., left, greets well-wishers at the YWCA in Springfield, Mass., Thursday, Jan. 31, 2013, during his farewell tour of the state. Kerry will be sworn in as secretary of state on Friday.  (AP Photo/Springfield Republican, Michael S. Gordon)
  • U.S. Sen. John F. Kerry, D-Mass., left, speaks at the YWCA in Springfield, Mass., Thursday, Jan. 31, 2013, during his farewell tour of the state. Kerry will be sworn in as secretary of state on Friday. Alongside Kerry are state Rep. Richard E. Neal, center, and YouthBuild USA founder and CEO Dorothy L. Stoneman, right. (AP Photo/Springfield Republican, Michael S. Gordon)
  • U.S. Sen. John F. Kerry waves to crowd as he arrives at the College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, Mass., for his "Thank You" event Thursday, Jan. 31, 2013. Kerry was in Worcester thanking constituents for sending him to Washington for the past 28 years. Kerry, the 2004 Democratic presidential nominee, will end his five terms as senator Friday when he resigns to become secretary of state. (AP Photo/WORCESTER TELEGRAM & GAZETTE,

The longtime Democratic lawmaker began his tour with a visit to the YouthBuild USA office in Springfield before stopping in Worcester to thank residents during an event at Holy Cross college.

In Springfield, Kerry called his decision to leave the Senate a “bittersweet moment” and said his best moments did happen in Washington but across the state when he met with residents and local organizations.

He pointed to the legislation he wrote in 1992 that created the YouthBuild program, which now has locations in 273 urban areas across the country. YouthBuild helps low-income residents ages 16 to 24 earn high school diplomas or GEDs by learning job skills building affordable housing.

“You have given me the privilege of a lifetime to represent this extraordinary commonwealth of Massachusetts as a United States senator,” Kerry said. “I can’t think of any better work, any better job, better opportunity, and I just wanted to come out here and say thank you.”

Kerry winds up his “thank you” tour at Boston’s Faneuil Hall where he’ll meet with constituents before delivering a farewell address at 6 p.m.

Kerry also praised Gov. Deval Patrick’s decision to name his former chief of staff, William “Mo” Cowan, to fill Kerry’s seat until new senator is selected in a special election June 25.

“The governor has picked a very capable, thoughtful, intelligent person,” Kerry said. “He’s going to do a great job.”

He also said he wasn’t worried about the lack of experience in the Senate for Massachusetts now that U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren, in office less than a month, is now the state’s senior senator.

Kerry was first elected in 1984.

Kerry’s resignation takes effect on Friday when he’s scheduled to be sworn in as secretary of state.

On Wednesday, Kerry gave a farewell speech to fellow lawmakers in the Senate chamber.

He became emotional when he tapped on his desk and remarked that it had been used by both John F. Kennedy and Edward M. Kennedy.

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