Manuscripts/Mixed Material Interview with Edward M. Featherstone
Association for Diplomatic Studies and Training Foreign Affairs Oral History Project
EDWARD M. FEATHERSTONE
Interviewed by: Thomas Dunnigan
Initial interview date: September 20, 1999
Copyright 2001 ADST
Q: This is Thomas Dunnigan speaking on September 20, 1999. Today I will be talking with Edward Featherstone, who spent more than 30 years dealing with foreign affairs as a Foreign Service officer, with a particular emphasis on Japan.
Ed, why don't we begin by your telling me something about your background and education, your military service and what interested you in the Foreign Service.
FEATHERSTONE: I was born in New York City in 1935. I started school there. My father was a lawyer, at the time. When World War II started, my father went overseas and we moved back to our ancestral home, which is in Wilkes Barre, Pennsylvania, up in the anthracite coal region of Pennsylvania. I was more or less raised there after graduating from the University of Pennsylvania in 1958. I had a military service requirement, of course, as most of us did in those years. I spent my time in the United States Army. I took ROTC in college and in high school. I was commissioned as an officer and I served in the 82nd Airborne Division for almost three half years.
Q: The 82nd is always the first one into action, it seems, when wget into trouble.
FEATHERSTONE: I was lucky, by virtue of when I was born. I didn't have to go to war. I came close to it once or twice, but I never had to go. I always had an interest in international affairs, when I was growing up and during my time at the University of Pennsylvania, where I had taken courses in it. Of course, my father was involved in international affairs, in a way, because he was a defense counsel for the war crimes trials. He defended Japanese accused of war crimes. He did this for about eight or nine years, counting the final legal reviews and so forth. I attended a number of his trials, including some fairly dramatic ones. But, anyway, I became interested in legal affairs to some extent, but also in international affairs, particularly those pertaining to Japan. After I graduated from college and completed my military service, I thought perhaps the most interesting course I could pursue would be to go into the Foreign Service. I talked with some people about this and eventually obtained the necessary documentation to take the Foreign Service examination. I did so in December 1959 and came into the Foreign Service in 1961.