“Deciding to Join,” Caitlyn Ross with Coy Easter, WWII-109
“Deciding to Join” with Coy Easter (WWII-109)
By Caitlyn Ross, Intern
Coy Easter is from North Carolina, and was drafted as a teenager into World War II following the attack on Pearl Harbor. Easter was inspired to participate in the war by President Roosevelt’s speeches. Easter gave a firsthand look at the public being encouraged by their leader during wartime, and FDR’s influence on him was lifelong.
FDR’s public image and words “have always stuck with [him]” and even at age 78, Easter remembers hearing FDR’s speech post Pearl Harbor. Easter was specifically impacted by the line “the only thing to fear is fear itself.” As a young man, Easter recognized FDR as “a man [who] had his real difficulties in life with his health. But here was a man that would really sock it to ya with encouragement.” Even though FDR had a handicap, he represented a strong, firm leader grounded in courage. The role of a president, according to Easter, was to comfort his public and embody peace in hard times. The public’s opinion of the war in its early stages is vital to its success, so it is telling that FDR was a reassuring leader. Coy Easter’s experience shows us firsthand how the President was able to begin a solid foundation of morale in America and inspire men and women to stick together during the war. Directly following Pearl Harbor, Easter looked to his president as a “good”, valiant leader, who encouraged him to stand up to the enemy. This is telling of the initial stages of American leaders portraying the war as one of “good versus evil,” an idea which still continues today.
FDR’s speeches had lifelong indications for Easter, and even today he thinks about the messages FDR was portraying. Easter said that FDR’s statement about fear helped him throughout his entire life to “balance things out” and not let fear control him. At the end of his interview Easter referenced “fear itself” again, explaining how it can be applied contemporarily, showing the true impact FDR’s speech had on him. Today, we still need to be wary of fear, and how it can control us. Easter explained that “once a man is fighting in fear, he’s just about lost his fight.” He warned against operating in fear and how fear is what prohibits things from getting accomplished. FDR’s statement can be applied to any sort of conflict or decision making situation, and people must remember that “fear can conquer you before you get started.” So, if we are to make progress, we need to be grounded, and not let fear overtake us.