COURTESY PHOTO
Adam Aliano just completed his freshman year at the U.S. Naval Academy.
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METHUEN — When kids are little, they generally admire someone. They may even call that person their hero. Then they grow up and usually change their minds.

Adam Aliano has not. His hero growing up was President Kennedy and that stands true today.

“Like any other kid, I had an idol growing up. I just never let go of mine,” Aliano said. “John F. Kennedy is my idol and he is a big Navy guy.”

Aliano, 19, is entering his sophomore year at the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Md.

Aliano starting reading about Kennedy at a very young age. His mother’s family collected Kennedy articles and photos, a tradition he carries on today.

“Anything new comes out, I buy it,” Aliano said. “From dissecting his Inaugural address to his relationship with his kids. It’s like any other kid with their idol, but I never let go of mine.”

Aliano is impressed with the entire Kennedy family.

“The whole Camelot thing and how the whole family went on vacation together,” Aliano said. “They were all public servants. It wasn’t just money to them; they gave back to the country.”

Giving back to the country was something Aliano’s parents, Samuel and Maria, ingrained in him at a very young age and continue to do so to this day.

“I grew up with the understanding, with my parents instilling in me that I had to give back,” Aliano explained. “I grew up knowing I have to represent what our nation stands for.”

Aliano’s father was a Lawrence police officer. His brother, Paul, is a cop in Florida and his sister, Lorie, was a registered nurse in the Navy for five years.

“I grew up in a family that always gave back.”

Aliano is very active in politics, which he likes to call public service. Unfortunately, since he has been enrolled in the Naval Academy, he hasn’t been able to keep up with local politics, such as the race for state representative, without his parents help.

“Most of the information I get is from my parents. There isn’t a lot of information on Massachusetts in Maryland,” Aliano explained. “I have been paying attention to the state representative race. Everyone is qualified. It’s going to be a good, competitive race.”

Aliano used an absentee ballot to vote for mayor and city council this past fall. Unfortunately he wasn’t able to vote in the presidential election in 2004, when he was a senior at Methuen High School.

“I missed it by a couple of days,” Aliano said. “My birthday is Nov. 4 and the election was Nov. 7.”

Aliano may not have been able to vote in the election, but he was involved.

“I worked on (John) Kerry’s campaign in the Merrimack Valley,” Aliano explained. “I worked with kids to get them educated and excited about the election.”

Aliano said most people do not get involved in elections and feels that is a mistake.

“It’s upsetting listening to people protesting and complaining. It’s sad to see they’re not well informed and they don’t vote,” Aliano said. “I feel people should go to the polls and vote. Casting your ballot is what makes a difference.

“I feel really heated about this. Not enough people care and those that do don’t vote.”

Aliano may be a registered Democrat, but said he votes for who has the best ideals. “I can see myself voting for a Republican president based on their views,” Aliano said. “Party affiliations don’t matter as much as the cause. I wouldn’t switch parties but vote how I feel.”

Although running for president is something Aliano would like to do in the future, he said he wants to start his career locally.

“Every kid’s dream is to be president. I don’t see why not. It’s not out of the question,” Aliano said. “I want to focus on a small scale right now. I want to serve Methuen.”

To get a better understanding of the inner workings of local government, Aliano spent a day with Methuen Mayor William Manzi, someone he knew little about. “I’ve read about (Mayor Manzi), his goals and ideas and I admire him,” Aliano said. “He’s doing his best and uses his assets to make Methuen better. It was those aspects that made me respect him and want to shadow him.”

When Aliano graduates from Annapolis, he would like to go to law school. Ideally, he would like to attend Harvard Law.

“After graduation I have to serve for (the Navy) for five years. After the five years, you have the options to pursue a life in the Navy or go out on your own,” Aliano explained. “I plan on going to law school during those five years and have the Navy help pay for it. I would have to serve more, but it would be worth it. Law school would be good for me.”