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never know "why"? That will escape us, too. We will have no understanding of that. We will not know how he became overwhelmed or overcome and why that happened and why his spirit and courage that had carried him so far no longer served to do that. Why? We will not know that-never.
But I do remember once, as he acknowledged to me the dual effect of the burden of polio and the disease of hypothyroidism. He said, with that great spirit shining through, “You know, I can beat one or the other of them but put them both together and boy, that is tough; really tough." And it was tough, obviously tough.
I remember a particular time, about 18 months ago, when my dear friend Rudy Boschwitz and I were visiting with JOHN. He wanted to visit. He wanted to ask us some things. We were then "old heads" for we had been here 2 years before he had come! And he wanted to talk. He was tired, he said; he was wondering, he said; and he was questioning, he said.
And he said, "Do you still like it? Do you still get frustrated? Do your colleagues drive you crazy sometimes?" And we said, "Oh, assuredly so, we can tell you; you bet." And we allowed that was all true. Indeed, it was and is, but that is part of the unique and marvelous experience of this place.
And so we shared much that day-we all did not about the Senate and public life and all the trappings of this experience, but we talked about feelings; the real feelings about triumph and disappointment and the good, the bad, and the ugly, and how you prevail in this fascinating arena, which is perceived as a very romantic and kind of dazzling experience, and it is that, but it is also a very personal place where we get to know each other and share our anxieties and our problems and our usual commentaries about questionable legislation and the power of staff and other things of that nature that are so real to us on a daily basis.
On that special day—it was back in the President's Room where Senator Boschwitz, Senator EAST, and I visited—we talked about those things, about family, the job and health, and healing, and so much.
It is not good for us to dwell too darkly upon the fact of his death, but let us try to remember with very glad and full hearts the blessing of his life because he did and will always serve as an inspiration to us all.
JOHN EAST accomplished so much good in his life and now he has found his peace with his God. Let us rejoice, certainly, and be heartened in the knowledge of that truth.
We pray also that the remarkable lady, Sis, who was at his side for so many years, and his dear daughters, Kathryn and Martha, and all the others who loved him, and all of us, may be granted God's sweeping comfort at this time of his lossbecause we are the losers.
God rest the soul of this dear and kindly man and let grief wane and God sustain.
Mr. HEFLIN. Mr. President, I am filled with sadness as I rise today to pay tribute to our colleague, Senator JOHN P. EAST. His death leaves a void in this Chamber which will not be easily filled. A strong, respected voice is now hushed, and in this silence we are the less fortunate. He was also a great friend and I will miss him in the years to come.
The example which Senator EAST left is one of courage, perseverance, character, and accomplishment. It was with tremendous courage that he faced life in 1955 at the age of 24 after the ravages of polio had savagely taken from him the use of his legs. It was with perseverance that he overcame his individual handicaps and earned a law degree at the University of Illinois and a doctoral degree in political science from the University of Florida. It was with character that JOHN EAST recognized no personal bounds and ran for the U.S. Senate to provide his country with his valuable services and his strong, clear voice. And, it was with accomplishment that he performed his duties as a Member of this body and represented the people of North Carolina.
Throughout his life, JOHN EAST possessed a tenacious resolve that enabled him to triumph. He forever embraced the strong moral convictions and high personal standards that distinguished him as a gentleman of great integrity. His intellectual prowess and faculties were remarkable, and his power of reasoning was outstanding. In any matter or on any issue his counsel was wise and studied, and his participation vital.
Above all else, Senator EAST labored throughout his life to benefit the people of this Nation. For 16 years he devoted his astonishing intellect to the unselfish profession of teaching as a political science professor at East Carolina University. Thousands of students benefited from his guidance as he taught them about our government and about the American way. When he was elected to the Senate, he brought with him this unselfish desire to teach. I believe that this is one reason behind the outstanding representation which he provided to his constituents. Not only did he struggle to serve them to the best of his ability, but he also worked to give them a better
understanding of the workings of government. This is one of the most important gifts which can be given, for it helps to further both democracy and freedom. An informed public means a stronger, more viable democracy. Such a contribution is, indeed, outstanding.
At all times and in every situation JOHN EAST possessed a delightful, easy manner which touched everyone. He always had a smile on his face and a cheerful word for everyone.
I hold a tremendous respect for our departed colleague, Senator JOHN P. EAST, as a statesman and as a legislator. He served the people of North Carolina, and of the United States of America well. His life of achievement is inspiring. He will be missed, and he will be long remembered. I believe that we should go forth from here, today, holding in our minds and in our hearts the example which our friend and colleague, JOHN EAST, set throughout his life. Indeed, he showed the way which we should follow in our duty to our States and to our Nation.
Mr. EXON. Mr. President, as we reflect upon great human tragedy, we stop and recognize that as human beings, we share great joys and great sorrows. For all of us, it is not if we will have great sorrows, but rather when, because we all share in great human losses.
We do not stand here today as Republicans or Democrats; as conservatives, liberals, or moderates. We stand here today to reflect upon our own mortality.
JOHN EAST was one of us. I sat with JOHN in committee meetings. We did not always agree—very few of us always agree. But you never had to wonder how JOHN EAST stood on an issue. JOHN EAST never pussyfooted around. You knew exactly where he stood and we all respected that characteristic. We can all learn much from the depth of his convictions.
JOHN's passing from us at such an early age seems so unfair, but life itself is not fair. While we cannot do away with life's uncertainties, we can resolve to be kinder to each other, a little less selfish and more compassionate to those whose lives we touch.
Mr. President, I for one will miss JOHN EAST very much, not only his dedication but his cheerful smile, his cheerful greeting; when you talked to JOHN EAST, you knew he was a friend.
TO JOHN'S wife, Sis, and his family, we offer our deepest condolences and prayers during these difficult times. JOHN EAST touched all of our lives. We are all better human beings for having been privileged to know him.
Mr. WARNER. Mr. President, the passing of Senator JOHN EAST represents an enormous loss to the U.S. Senate and to the country he loved so dearly. As one who is privileged to represent Virginia, a bordering State, the loss of Senator EAST is particularly sorrowful; for the bonds that tie the Commonwealth of Virginia and North Carolina run long and deep.
The life of JOHN EAST, much of which he bravely endured with a handicap, was a profile in modern courage. The physical and intellectual challenges open to Members of this body can be extraordinarily high, and JOHN EAST was an extraordinary man who met each and every one of those challenges. He never sought sympathy or any special consideration from his colleagues. Instead, until a recent illness temporarily forced him to reduce his workload, JOHN EAST's career in the Senate was marked by the same vigor that propels the rest of us.
JOHN EAST leaves behind a lifetime of accomplishments. After playing college football and serving in the U.S. Marines, JOHN EAST went on to law school, graduate school, and a distinguished career in teaching. It was during this time that his keen mind—a mind that was envied by all in this body-finely honed the conservative principles he believed in so passionately. He became an articulate spokesman for conservative causes, and his vision and determination will be greatly missed.
Although some of Senator EAST's convictions were highly unpopular, nothing deterred him in his work for change. In doing so, his tools for change were a brilliant intellect, personal integrity, and tenaciousness, and a voice that commanded respect by all.
Sadly, we have lost a colleague who had not yet achieved the full measure of success he most certainly would have achieved if tragedy had not befallen him.
My deep, heartfelt sympathies are extended to his lovely and beautiful wife and to his family by all of us who loved him so dearly. He was a fine man, a fine Senator, a great patriot, and a Southern gentleman in the true spirit of that tradition.
It was my privilege to go to North Carolina during his campaign and to campaign beside him and beside his wife. I shall miss him greatly, as will this body.
Mr. STEVENS. Mr. President, JOHN EAST brought many things to this Chamber. What he really brought was his views. He remained loyal to his ideals; and even when his views put him in a very small minority, he was heard.
Much has been said, as the Senator from Virginia has said, about the hurdles which JOHN overcame throughout his life. I
am not here to dwell on those difficulties, except to note that in overcoming those difficulties, he achieved far more than most Americans can dream to achieve.
I think he set an example for disabled Americans. He also set an example for those who are fortunate enough to be here without a disability, because few can claim to have left the mark that JOHN EAST left in so short a time.
He came here with both a law degree and a doctorate in political science, and he was a successful professor as well as being a successful Senator.
He really did accomplish many things during his life. I am sure that one of the things he is most proud of was raising his two daughters, Kathryn and Martha. They, along with our good friend, Sis East, now have a new challenge. As one who has faced that challenge, I know that they will find comfort in the words of JOHN'S colleagues in the Senate and know that our thoughts are with them.
Earlier this week, Senator Helms was kind enough to share with us articles from several newspapers which memorialized Senator JOHN EAST's life. In looking over those articles, the image I have of JOHN EAST came back. It is not the same image that many people would have. It is the image of JOHN EAST in the Senate Chamber.
Although he was disabled, I met JOHN very often in the Senate gym, because he was dedicated to trying to maintain his vitality, and we had many conversations there. I got to know the real JOHN EAST, I think, in those conversations in the quiet of the Senate gym, where we were not pursuing our philosophy but were getting to know one another. I found him to be an intelligent and fiercely dedicated man, dedicated to the principles on which this country was founded.
We had many disagreements, some in the gym and some here on the floor; but there is no question that North Carolina sent a brilliant public servant to the Senate when they sent us JOHN EAST. We will all miss him very much.
Mr. HATFIELD. Mr. President, the news of the death of Senator EAST came as a great shock to me, as I am sure it did for all my colleagues. Whenever a family member, friend, or colleague dies there is a profound sense of loss. With Senator EAST it was the loss of a friend and colleague who brought unique talents, experiences, and character to the Senate. His strong spirit, raw courage, and deep conviction added to the distinctive character of this institution.