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upworthy
Heroes

This former governor once ran for president. And he's been a volunteer trash collector for 25 years.

Michael Dukakis is the longest-serving governor in the history of Massachusetts.

Dukakis served as the leader of the commonwealth for 12 nonconsecutive years between 1975 and 1991, barring a brief four-year stint when his own political party kinda screwed him over and stuck another guy in office in his stead. And he willingly commuted on public transportation the entire time (which, as anyone who's ever ridden on the MBTA Green Line can tell you, is truly an admirable feat). He was also the Democratic presidential candidate in 1988, losing out to President George H.W. Bush.


Gov. Michael Dukakis on the presidential campaign road in 1988. Photo by Don Emmert/AFP/Getty Images.


He also likes to walk around the city by himself and pick up the trash. Ya know, as former presidential candidates do.

Boston resident Sarah Godfrey recently wrote this letter to The Boston Globe regaling her random run-in with Mike "The Trashman" Dukakis:

OK, so no one actually calls him Mike "The Trashman" Dukakis. But plenty of people have witnessed the Duke waging his one-man war against evil litterbugs:

Presumably, Dukakis was also picking up litter before the invention of the smartphone, too.

While the earliest mention I could find of Dukakis trash-collecting was from 2009, it would stand to reason that he's probably been at it for a lot longer than that. A 2003 Boston Globe article also highlighted the Duke's vigilante brand of eco-justice. Here's a particularly articulate quote from the man himself:

"I mean, look at this crap! It's appalling, disgraceful. There's just no excuse for it. ... It's enough to drive you out of your mind. You see it all over the place and you have to ask: Why isn't anyone dealing with this?"

In the article, Dukakis also alludes to his disappointment in his gubernatorial successor, William Weld. "I left a plan for Weld 13 years ago to do this, and only now are we getting to it," he told the Globe.

But that "13 years" was 12 years ago now, meaning that Dukakis has been fighting this battle for at least a quarter of a century.

By putting the trash in its place, Dukakis also shows us what it means to be a public servant.

Politicians are meant to serve the interests of the public, but you don't often see them bending over to pick up plastic wrappers and discarded papers. In a perfect world, we wouldn't have to remark on the rare wonderment of a wealthy, successful politician doing a daily good deed for the people.

That being said: It shouldn't be left to an 81-year-old man to take out all the trash. So let's all, each and every of us, do like The Duke and bring some spit-shine to our own city streets. In the immortal words of the great Captain Planet, "The power is YOURS!"

And also:


GIF from "Captain Planet." Obvi.


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