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Proceedings in the Senate
MONDAY, July 14, 1986.
The Chaplain, the Reverend Richard C. Halverson, D.D., offered the following prayer:
Let us pray. Just at this moment, David Joy, of the Photography Department, is undergoing complicated surgery. Father in Heaven, we commend him now to Your loving care.
God of all comfort, Father of us all, the Senate convenes today, painfully aware of the absence of one of its respected Members. We thank you for Senator John East-for his dedicated service to God and country. We thank You for his brilliant mind-his profound understanding of constitutional government-his sense of history. We thank You for his unfailing ability to see issues in their larger context, in the perspective of permanent values, in the light of tested tradition, and in the long view ahead. We thank You for his courage and perseverance under great personal difficulty—his gentleness-his response to duty and his commitment to the trust which sent him to the Senate. We join in loving concern and prayer for Mrs. East, the family, the faithful staff who served him so well, and hosts of admiring, sorrowing friends. Gracious, compassionate Father, give to them the peace which only You can give at this time of pain and loss.
And, Father in Heaven, as Senator James Broyhill is sworn in, we pray for him a special measure of Your wisdom and Your guidance and Your blessing upon him as well as his family and his staff.
In the name of Him who Senator East trusted for life eternal. Amen.
Mr. HELMS. Mr. President, it is my sad duty to report formally to the Senate that our distinguished colleague from North Carolina (Mr. East) died on June 29 at his home in Greenville, NC.
However, Mr. President, it is far more than a formality for me to try to convey the sadness that I feel. You see, John EAST was far more than a colleague. He was a friend to every Member of the Senate, a great American who was admired across the Nation as a man of enormous courage, extraordinary dedication, and keen intellect.
At a time like this, one remembers personal vignettes. How many times have we seen Senator East roll his wheelchair into the Senate Chamber, at all hours of the day and night, to cast his votes? And he came always with a smile on his face—when, frankly, other Senators were grousing about all-night sessions.
Mr. President, the distinguished majority leader (Mr. Dole) put it well a couple of weeks before Senator East's death. Senator Dole, speaking to an audience in Charlotte, paid tribute to Senator East, describing Senator East as “One of the most remarkable men I've ever known. I wonder,” Senator Dole said, “how many of us ever stop to think what a struggle it is for Senator East just to be there. The rest of us walk into the Senate Chamber. JOHN EAST has to come in a wheelchair."
So in a very real way, Mr. President, Senator John P. EAST was a profile in courage. The thought occurred to me, incidentally, that the words of praise from Senator Dole had a special meaning, because Bob Dole is himself another profile in courage. Badly injured in battle while serving his country overseas, Senator Dole has never once complained about the infirmity that would have devastated other men.
And so it was with Senator East. He never complained. And although, as Senator Dole said, it was a struggle for Senator East to comply with the rigorous schedule of a U.S. Senator, you could always count on JOHN East to be there when needed, and on time.
Mr. President, I shall not consume the Senate's time with a lengthy review of John East, the man, the Senator. But there are little things which will linger forever in my mind. For example, on the last night before the Senate recessed for the Independence Day holiday, JOHN EAST entered this Chamber from that door. He cast his final vote from his customary position just to the right of the Presiding Officer.
A new group of Senate pages had arrived just a few days earlier. John pointed to those fine young people, and said to me: "Jesse, have you noticed? Every time a new group of young people shows up, I decide that they couldn't be any better. But somehow they are.” Then we discussed how encouraging it is to observe the character and wholesomeness of the majority of today's young people.
That is the point, Mr. President, John East helped build the character of thousands of young people. As a teacher, he was superb. He caused students to think about America, and the greatness of this blessed land. He spoke of principles that deserve to survive. He made sure that the young people enrolled in his classes realized the uniqueness of America, and that that uniqueness is no happenstance. He caused young people to understand that freedom is both precious and fragile—and that it can be lost through apathy and indifference.
In short, this scholar-teacher-statesman loved America, and he conveyed that love to all who knew him.
And as I conclude, Mr. President, I would express my appreciation, and that of Senator East's family, for the countless expressions of love and sympathy that poured into North Carolina during the past 2 weeks. And in particular, I am gratefulas are Mrs. East and her daughters—for the fact that so many of our colleagues and their wives went to Greenville for the memorial services on July 1.
At those services, conducted by Senator East's pastor, Reverend J. Malloy Owen, the essence of John's life was described in a most notable way.
Mr. President, I obtained a transcript of the remarks by the Reverend Mr. Owen, and I ask unanimous consent that they be printed in the Record at this point.
MEMORIAL SERVICE FOR SENATOR JOHN P. East-REVEREND J. MALLOY
OWEN III, MINISTER
I am the resurrection, the truth, and the life. He who believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live. The eternal God is your dwelling place, and underneath are the everlasting arms. The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid? Blessed be the Lord! for He has heard the voice of my supplications. The Lord is my strength and my shield; in Him my heart trusts. For we know that if this earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the Heavens.
Let us pray: O God, may we accept today your grace and peace through our Lord, Jesus Christ. May we remember with joy and gratitude a man of conviction, strength, and courage whom we sent from this campus to help lead our nation and our world. We praise you today for such a man, through Jesus Christ, Our Lord. Amen.
Now hear the word of God as we find it in the 121st Psalm: “I lift up mine eyes to the hills. From whence does my help come? My help comes from the Lord who made Heaven and earth. He will not let your foot be moved. He who keeps you will not slumber. Behold, He who keeps Israel will neither slumber nor sleep. The Lord is your keeper. The Lord is your shade on your right hand. The sun shall not smite you by day nor the moon by night. The Lord will keep you from all evil. The Lord will keep your going out and your coming in from this time forth and forevermore.'
Among the most obvious facts in the life of John East was his commitment to the Christian faith and to our heritage as Americans. Central to that faith, important to that heritage, is the Affirmation of Faith which comes to us from the Second Century and is shared by so many of the Christians of the world and of our nation. It is called the Apostles' Creed.
After we have stood and said it together, we will turn to Hymn No. 305, “Onward, Christian Soldiers.” We will sing the first stanza only. Let us stand now and affirm the faith.
In what do you believe? I believe in God the Father Almighty, maker of Heaven and earth; and in Jesus Christ his only Son our Lord: who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and buried; the third day He rose from the dead; He ascended into Heaven, and sitteth at the right hand of God the Father Almighty; from thence He shall come to judge the quick and the dead. I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy catholic Church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting. Amen.
John's Bible was so marked up. His family shared this with me as we planned this service. The markings indicate that he read his Bible. He studied it. He knew it. And the beliefs to which he so irrevocably committed were based in this Book. Two verses come to mind immediately. One has a picture in it that he used in a recent speech. It is a picture of leaven from I Corinthians 5:6. “A little leavens the whole lump." John knew that it didn't take many people to influence a nation. It just took some people who knew what they believed, were thoroughly convinced that they were right, and were willing to pay the price of being different. John East was willing to pay the price, and he led. And before too many years, people followed. And then, of course, the last chapter of I Corinthians includes this beautiful statement, “Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be men of courage; be strong; do everything in love."
John was a man of strength and courage. He had to discipline himself, especially in view of his handicap. His accomplishments are utterly amazing. How often I have heard people say, “Most of us would have crawled into a corner and watched television for the rest of our lives." But not John East. He knew what he believed. And if you knew him, you knew where he stood. He was tolerant of others, always willing to listen attentively to them as they presented their positions, really listening, and expecting from them like courtesy. He loved his family, and he is loved by his family.
Last night at the Greenville Rotary Club we sang it again as we did here last Sunday, “Who more than self their country loved.” And I thought of JOHN East. Although we are stunned and shocked at this tragedy, let us go from this place praising God for this man of strong convictions and amazing courage. Dr. East was an intelligent, articulate person who was engaged in civil and thoughtful debate on a myriad of issues. America is richer for having had him, and the lives of his thousands of former students are forever enriched from what he taught them. Who will take up the torch of this brave man?
Let us pray: O God, the strength of your saints and the one who redeems the souls of your servants, we call to remembrance your loving kindness and your tender mercies to this your servant, John. For all your goodness that did not withhold his portion in the joys of this earthly life and for your guiding hand along the way of his pilgrimage, we give you thanks and praise. Especially we bless you for your grace that kindled in his heart the love of your dear Name and of your precious Word that enabled him to fight the good fight. We praise you for giving John wisdom and knowledge, strength of character. For the contribution he made to the lives of his students and to the life of our country and our world, we are forever grateful. We praise you for this strong but gracious man as we remember his use of this prayer of Francis of Assisi: Lord, make me an instrument of Thy peace. Where there is hatred, let me show love;
Where there is injury, pardon;
Father, we would add only this, the prayer that our Lord Jesus taught us to pray when He taught us to say, "Our Father which art in Heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth as it is in Heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For thine is the Kingdom, the Power, and the Glory forever. Amen."
Please stand for the benediction. And now the God of peace who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant, make you perfect in every good work to do His will, working in you that which is well-pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ, Our Lord, to whom be glory now and forever. Amen.
Mr. HELMS. Mr. President, needless to say, Dorothy and I extend our deepest loving sympathy to the lady whom we know as “Sis” East, and her two daughters, Martha and Kathryn, and other members of the family.
[From the Raleigh News and Observer, June 30, 1986]
SENATOR EAST LAUDED BY SORROWFUL COLLEAGUES
(By Todd Cohen and David Perkins)
Senator Jesse A. Helms said Sunday that Senator John P. East was “a man of good cheer, but I expect that he will be most remembered for his astonishing intellect. He was a very wise man. He understood this country as few people do in terms of its principles and its fundamentals. And he did not hesitate once defending those principles.”
Helms, East's political mentor, was one of many North Carolina politicians who reacted with shock and with praise for East, who committed suicide in his Greenville home.
Helms, whose political organization helped lift East from his job as an East Carolina University professor to the U.S. Senate in 1980, said he would remember East “because of the personal affection that I had for him. No senator ever had a finer colleague than he.”
Helms said he had notified President Reagan, who was in California, at 10:30 a.m. of East's death.
“The president was stunned and saddened,” Helms said at a Raleigh news conference. “He greatly admired Senator East."
Republican Governor James C. Martin said in a written statement that East's death was “a tragic loss for North Carolina and the people he repre