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Be it further resolved that a copy of this Resolution shall be forwarded to his wife, Priscilla “Sis" East; his two daughters, Kathryn East and Martha East; and to the President of the United States Senate.
This concurrent resolution is signed by the speaker of the house and the president of the senate.
Mr. President, that just about says it all. I thank the Chair.
Mr. DOLE. Mr. President, on the day we returned from our Fourth of July recess, I expressed my profound sorrow over the death of our colleague John EAST.
As I said then, JOHN was a very special individual who added much to this institution and the lives of all who work here.
So many things that we take for granted, things as simple as striding onto the Senate floor to vote, or rushing to catch a train back to our office, John East could not do. Stricken by polio as a young adult, John determined to make something of himself—to use his marvelous intellectual talents for the greater good.
And in his example, millions of disabled Americans can find not only the inspiration, but the proof that they too can lead productive lives.
For John East studied, became a lawyer, a political scientist, and a college professor. But perhaps most importantly, for those of us who knew him here in Washington and back home in North Carolina, he became a dedicated and effective public servant.
As I have said earlier, during the 5 years he spent in the Senate I grew to admire and respect the way JOHN used his considerable knowledge to promote ideas that he believed were for the public good.
The Senate has had few Members as literate and eloquent as JOHN East. As a matter of fact, he was called the resident scholar of the class of 1980. At ease quoting Plato, or Edmund Burke, JOHN could be a daunting debater and fierce advocate-whether the issue involved the restoration of traditional family values-or the role the United States played in the family of nations.
John East was a unique man, and made a unique contribution to American public life. His presence here in the Senate will be sorely missed.
Once again, I want to extend my sincere sympathy to Senator East's wife and two daughters, all his family, his friends, and the thousands of constituents he served so well in North Carolina.
Mr. President, I think it has been stated and restated a number of times by our colleagues, both on the Senate floor and privately, that John was unique in many ways, whether it was his ability to articulate his point of view, whether it was his philosophy, whether it was his faith, whether it was his ability to deal with disagreement, or whether just his way of getting along with all of us in this Chamber.
As I indicated then, there is a highly charged political atmosphere in the Senate from time to time. We feel strongly about our views, whether we are Republicans or Democrats. There are times when I think somebody just watching the U.S. Senate might believe we really do not care much for one another. And, at times, they might be right. But I would guess that in the case of John East, despite his firmly held views, there is no one in this Chamber who did not respect him, respect his point of view, and if they had the opportunity to come to know JOHN East, to respect him for the man he was.
So, Mr. President, as I said that day, some people make a difference in their lifetime. I guess most people make a difference some way. But some people make a difference that affects thousands, or hundreds of thousands, or maybe even millions of people. They may do it by what they say, they may do it by how they conduct themselves, they may do it and not even recognize it. I think John East was in the latter category.
He never sought headlines, never sought publicity, never sought to do anything but conduct himself as he should in the U.S. Senate. Although I do not think JOHN considered it a struggle, anybody looking from the outside and seeing JOHN come in in his wheelchair and knowing that, in effect, he lived in that chair every day, I believe it was an example of courage. His courage meant a lot, not only to a lot of friends and colleagues, but to many people who may have just seen John and met him, maybe on the political trail, maybe on the Senate floor, maybe from the gallery. I think his courage above all, is something that did make a difference.
I recall my last conversation with John when he was about where he normally was, to the right of the table in front of us, waiting to vote in his proper turn. We had a rather close vote, one that I was interested in. I said, “JOHN, could you help me on this?"
He said, “Well, if you really need it," and he did.
I think maybe one other time, I asked John East on a rather tough vote in 1982 on a tax bill, a tough vote for someone from North Carolina. The final vote was 50 to 47, and without the 2 votes from the Senators from North Carolina, it would
have been the other way. It would have been 49 to 48, if I added it up right, and the tax bill of 1982 would have been defeated. That, to me, was certainly a courageous act by both Senators, Senator East and Senator Helms.
So I would guess that more than John knew, maybe even more than his family may know, he had a great impact on many of us. Because, like Senator Helms, I have traveled around the country some and I have had an opportunity to see a lot of people. Many, many times, John East's name was mentioned for his philosophy, for his courage, for his dedication, for his support of President Reagan. He never veered from that, except in exceptional circumstances that affected his State.
Again, I join my colleagues in expressing our gratitude for having known John East and also in expressing our sympathy to his family, his wife, and daughters.
I think Senator Denton probably said it better than I am able. What we want to remember about John East is what we all want to be—to be tolerant of one another, to respect one another in this Chamber, respect each other's views, though we may have rather sharp disagreements; not to complain about our own situation, whatever it may be; and to look to the future-and there is a future for America. JOHN who made an enormous contribution as a teacher, never retreated from his optimism, his hope for America's young people.
Mr. COHEN. Mr. President, I rise to offer a few brief comments in memory of my colleague, John East.
I recall that Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr., once made the statement that life is action and passion and one must share in that action and passion at the risk of being judged not to have lived. I think perhaps more than any other person in this Chamber, John East believed deeply in that particular statement and philosophy and lived it.
He was certainly a man of action. Anyone who is in this Chamber can recall the many nights that JOHN would be sitting at the rear of this Chamber in his wheelchair, not flinching from the hour or indeed, from the display of anger or irritation by some of the Members who wanted to end the turmoil of the evening and go home. But John felt compelled to speak what was on his mind because he was not only a man of action but a man of great passion.
He believed passionately in his conviction about this country's national defense. I know the Senator from Arizona, presently sitting in the Chair, who chairs the Armed Services Committee, will attest to Senator East's strong commitment to national defense, he was always an aggressive, articulate voice on behalf of our armed services. At a time when it was not popular to be so, at a time when many were requesting deep and dramatic reductions in the defense budget, it was always Senator East who sat in the rear of this Chamber and was willing to speak up in his country's interest. So he believed in Oliver Wendell Holmes' philosophy.
Senator Dole a moment ago mentioned courage. Again, I do not know of anyone I can point to who had more courage, if you define courage as facing adversity without losing faith. John East faced a great deal of adversity. He had a serious physical handicap. Many of us would have, I think, given up to despair a long time ago just living with that particular handicap. Somehow, JOHN East always came into this Chamber, always came into the Senate hearings with a sense of courtesy, compassion, and a measure of levity, because he was willing to smile in spite of the pain that he might have been experiencing at the moment.
One of the last times I saw Senator East, I was in the Senate gymnasium, preparing to go through a vigorous workout. He was completing a number of laps in the pool, trying to get some exercise for his legs. Following that, he went into the weight room and started on a new weight lifting program. And it struck me as being curious at the time that someone in John's state of being and his particular age would suddenly take up weight lifting. Hopefully several of us in this Chamber inspired him to do that.
But it showed me something about courage again, courage to start something new, to try and do something with himself, to improve himself even under the extraordinary circumstances with which he had to contend.
None of us are in a position to pass judgment on what pressures any individual must bear or fail to bear, to what depths of despair a person might sink in order to say that life is no longer worth living. But I do know this much about JOHN, that each of us, it has been said, stands upon the verge of crumbling time. We live, we love, we laugh, we pass away, and we mingle with the dust. But this much we know—that a good and noble life enriches all of us.
So I take this occasion to say to John's family and his friends that he was a good and noble man, and his life has enriched all of us.
Mr. GORTON. Mr. President, I speak today to join with my colleagues in mourning the loss of Senator John East of North Carolina, but also to celebrate his service to this Nation.
A relatively young man when he died more than 3 weeks ago, Senator East had lived many years since his active youth with several physical ailments, the most difficult of which was polio.
Each day we saw John East's courage as he came to the Senate floor or to committee work. Never-in my experience with him, nor to my knowledge in the experience of any other Senator-did John East once complain of his afflictions nor ask for special consideration. That experience will always remain an example to me, as well as to millions of disabled Americans.
Senator East came to us from East Carolina University, where he had taught before beginning his Senate service and where he was returning upon completion of that service. I saw the professor in John East in the sense of his ability to marshall his remarkable intellectual powers in the consideration of public policy. John East may have been disabled physicallybut he was most extraordinarily able intellectually.
Senator East also was a man of principle. I suspect that none of us ever had any difficulty in knowing where he stood on an issue. Those who would waiver and obfuscate on questions of public policy saw him as unreasonably obstructionist and hardheaded. Others of us saw him as a Senator willing to make difficult decisions—and stand by those decisions.
How ironic that he expressed concern in a 1983 interview about being seen as “contentious and shallow.” John East was fond of quoting Plato and Edmund Burke. I suspect that JOHN would be satisfied knowing that we would come to remember him by a statement of Edmund Burke about public servants. In 1769 in “Observations on a Publication, 'The present state of the Nation,'” Edmund Burke said, “It is a general popular error to imagine the loudest complainers for the public to be the most anxious for its welfare."
Mr. President, U.S. Senator John East of North Carolina was neither loud nor a complainer. But he most certainly was anxious for the Nation's welfare. That is how I shall remember him as a Senator—and as a dutiful servant of his country.
Mr. HECHT. Mr. President, when I first came to the U.S. Senate in 1983, I was impressed by the many great statesmen and leaders that comprised this Chamber. Yet among this group of distinguished politicians, one man instantly gained