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The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.
That challenge against apathy was what John East stood for. Faced with the personal affliction that restricted him to a wheelchair, it would have been easy for JOHN to do nothing. But apathy wasn't a part of John East's soul. He just didn't have it in him to sit back and do nothing.
Even when he lost his first congressional race to Walter Jones in 1966 and 2 years later lost to Thad Eure for North Carolina's secretary of state, John didn't stop trying. In 1976, John became a delegate to the Republican Convention and 4 years later he defeated Robert Morgan to become a U.S. Senator.
John East was also a scholar. He graduated phi beta kappa from Earlham College in 1953. He earned a law degree from the University of Illinois in 1959. John then went on to receive a master degree and a Ph.D. from the University of Florida in 1964. This dedicated work as student led to a dedicated career as a professor of political science at East Carolina University in Greenville, NC.
While in the Senate, John served on the Armed Services Committee which also put him on the subcommittees: Manpower and Personnel; Military Construction; and Preparedness. John also served on the Judiciary Committee and was chairman of the Subcommittee on Courts. He also served on the Subcommittee on Security and Terrorism.
As a member of Armed Services, John fought diligently to deploy the MX missile and to block a nuclear freeze. On Judiciary, John labored to allow school prayers and limit abortions.
JOHN was always prepared to stand up for the things he believed, conforming his actions and thoughts to his conscience rather than to what often could have been the more popular and easier road. I remember in the lameduck session during December 1982 that JOHN stood fast and filibustered the Senate's effort to raise the Federal gasoline tax by a nickel a gallon. It was approaching Christmas and everyone was tired and wanting to go home for the holidays.
Alone, but resolute, John faced an angry Senate. When Senator Hayakawa suggested that John's filibuster was contrary to the Democratic process, John retorted:
With all due respect to my distinguished colleagues in this body-1 revere every one of them, all 99 of them—I will not be in any way intimidated with the idea that some way or other by utilizing the rules of this body that I am doing something out of character. No, I am not. It has been done before. It has been done and it will be done after I am gone and every Member of this Chamber is gone, because there is a feeling in this body whether it is consistent with democratic political theory; yes, it is. The Senate so thinks it is under its current rules in order to make sure what the majority does is not imprudent, is not ill-advised, is not done in a spirit of passion at a late hour.
The remarks of John's pastor, Reverend J. Malloy Owen, reflect this independent courage as he said of John at the memorial service for him:
John knew 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.
I am going to miss Senator John East. He was a friend, a colleague, and someone who when he gave his word, I knew I could count on it. From his influence and effort, all America became stronger and freer. I shall not forget John and I am proud to know that for the rest of my life, I will be all the better for my friendship with him.
Mr. SPECTER. Mr. President, it is with great sadness and deep sorrow that I comment on the recent death of a dedicated statesman, attorney, educator, and dear colleague, the late Senator JOHN P. East of North Carolina.
I am priviledged to have had the honor of serving in the Senate with John and to have personally witnessed his tireless commitment to his country and the American people. But many of us know that his public service did not begin following his election to the Senate in 1980. JOHN served in the U.S. Marine Corps as a young man and later joined the staff at East Carolina University in Greenville, NC, where for more than 16 years he cultivated young people's interest in politics. In addition, he faithfully served the Republican Party faithfully in various capacities, including national committeeman. I am well aware of how enlightening these experiences were for JOHN and how very dear they were to him.
The recipient of numerous awards and commendations as a result of his contributions, I think one of John's greatest distinctions was that of his selflessness in spite of personal illness. JOHN was a tenacious fighter and allowed no illness or handicap to deter him in representing the people of North Carolina. Through his important work on the Armed Services and Judiciary Committees, particularly his leadership as chairman of the Subcommittee on the Courts, his efforts and ideals will continue.
JOHN leaves behind a loving wife and companion, Priscilla “Sis” East, and two daughters, Kathryn and Martha, as well as other family members to whom I extend my personal condolences.
To quote Abraham Lincoln: Let us have faith and right makes might, and in that faith let us to the end dare to do our duty as we understand it.
This quote is a fitting tribute to Senator John P. East. He did his duty as he understood it, and those of us in the Senate will miss him.
Mr. DOMENICI. Mr. President, when Senator John P. EAST decided to leave us, we lost a dear friend of freedom and one of its most articulate spokesman. Senator East was fond of quoting Plato who is attributed with saying that, “The penalty good men pay for indifference to public affairs is to be ruled by evil men." Senator East's life is a testimony to the constant effort needed to be ruled by good men.
JOHN was a U.S. Marine lieutenant who became a lawyer and earned his doctorate as well. He was a respected university professor who chose to enter the battle for freedom as many marines do. Senator East fought for freedom in the realm of ideas. It is this realm which ultimately runs the world. In this the world of ideas, Senator East will be remembered as one who revered life and helped to articulate its cause for the unborn.
He was no stranger to the struggle for achievement. Not many people would have displayed his unusual courage and perseverance after a bout with polio in his young adult life. I believe that his courage is continuing after his earthly life. John Ayscough told us that "Death is but a sharp corner near the beginning of life's procession down eternity.” Senator East will most certainly be a leader in the procession down eternity, a conquest that should bring joy to our hearts. Or, as Mark Twain put it, “Why is it that we rejoice at a birth and grieve at a funeral? It is because we are not the person involved."
In memory of Senator John P. East, I would ask my colleagues and all Americans to honor life in all its aspects and to help protect and defend our country as the example of freedom for all other countries to follow.
Mr. GRASSLEY. Mr. President, I do not believe I can honor JOHN East with words any better than those already spoken by my distinguished colleagues.
JOHN was an honorable man, and an effective Senator for North Carolina. It was my honor to serve with him on the Judiciary Committee, where he was an effective and eloquent advocate. He was soft-spoken by nature, yet steadfast in his commitment to the principles he believed in. His gentle manner only partially hid a strong will—which allowed him to carry on his duties in the face of an illness that would have overcome many of us.
I am comforted by the knowledge that JOHN rests with our Savior—at peace with himself—at peace with the world. JOHN would know as well as any of us that a moral life in this world is the best preparation for the next. Nevertheless, I mourn the loss of John East-my colleague and friend.
Mr. ANDREWS. Mr. President, John East and I were elected to the U.S. Senate in 1980. Although John did not have any previous congressional experience, his legal background and scholarly expertise gave him an indepth understanding of the dynamics of both the political and legislative process. JOHN came to the Senate with a full agenda and a determination to see his goals achieved. But that was not to be. Members of the class of 1980 will miss him and especially miss his commitment to principles, his eloquence, and his humor. Though gone, he will not be forgotten.
Mr. BOREN. The Nation's wave of sympathy for John EAST and his family after his tragic passing befits a man widely admired for supporting his convictions with courage.
But those of us who worked with him are particularly saddened. Every day, we benefited from the sincere kindness of a man who rose from great personal difficulty, without bitterness, to serve his fellow man.
This Senator will sorely miss John East and his thoughtfulness to all those around him.
Mr. GARN. Mr. President, I join my colleagues today in paying tribute to Senator John East. All of us feel deeply the loss of our good friend and, as always at time of tragedy, wonder why it had to be so.
None of us can answer those questions; only a greater intelligence than mankind possesses can do that. It is better for us, then, to celebrate the lives lived by those who are taken from us. And in John's case, there is much to celebrate.
He was a quiet, thoughtful man, not given to extremes of temperament, but thoroughly committed and dedicated to the ideals that he held. Though confined to a wheelchair since his early adulthood, he was not deterred by the hard work needed to continue his career and meet the demands of his teaching responsibilities and, eventually, his Senate duties.
All of us know of the diligence with which he approached his position as Member of this body. He made a careful study of the issues confronting the Senate; he chose the timing and content of his remarks in this Chamber with care and substance, and he remained a gentleman in the course of often heated debate; he had learned that important ability to disagree without being disagreeable; he bore the burden of his handicap with dignity and courage, and never placed that burden at the doorstep of others; he was a man who had a tremendous strength of character, and upon whose word you could rely with utmost confidence; he spoke his mind and you knew where you stood with him. I respect that, and I respect John East, and will always remember him as a man possessed of a superb intellect and a fine, upstanding and capable Member of this body.
Mr. MATHIAS. Mr. President, it is with great regret that we conduct Senate business today without one of our most courageous colleagues, JOHN EAST.
The important example of John East's life was his courage in confronting a massive handicap. Most of us require more than average energy just to fulfill our duties in the U.S. Senate. JOHN East had to find in himself additional strength to conduct the routines of daily life with polio. He did so with patience and kindness toward all those with whom he came in contact.
It was his will and his patience which helped him defy polio, the disease that struck him at the early age of 24. These qualities became his self-prescribed medicines against new illnesses before his death. While he could not get out of a chair without help, he could preside over the U.S. Senate as an act of will. JOHN East left us this legacy of his brave spirit, which will inspire all of us in adversity.
Mr. MOYNIHAN. Mr. President, our colleague, John P. East, was contemplating a return to the classroom at East Carolina University in Greenville when he died. He had only just finished reviewing proofs for a book to be published this coming fall. This was a man who understood the relationship between politics and the study of politics. My regard and fondness for John East comes naturally enough, for my life, like his, has alternated between these two pursuits: Or, if you like, sanctuaries.