By James Bowden
On the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month in 1918, the guns went silent on the western front. This morning a friend of mine reminded me that veterans are people who sign a blank check to their country, payable up to and including death. I haven’t ever drafted a promissory note with such gravity, but I share the bar with a few folks who have. I thought I’d try to pay them tribute on this Veterans Day.
Douglas Henry served in the Second World War, and received an honorable discharge. He returned to Tennessee, went to law school at Vanderbilt, and was elected to the Tennessee General Assembly in 1952. He still serves the state of Tennessee as State Senator for the 6th district, and was just elected last week for another 4 year term at the age of 83. As he said in his campaign commercial, there’s more for him to do. Rumor is that he writes a check in the amount of every cent the state pays him for per diem compensation to the Treasurer's office, and returns all campaign donations to donors if he runs unopposed, with interest.
Jim Neal was in the U.S. Marine Corp. in the Korean War. After he left the military, Jim went to Vanderbilt for law school and graduated first in his class. He served as Special Prosecutor in Robert Kennedy’s Department of Justice, where he prosecuted Jimmy Hoffa, twice. After being convicted, Hoffa was heard to say that if he had to do it over again, he’d hire Jim Neal to defend him. Jim went on to defend Ford in the Pinto litigation and Exxon in the Valdez cases, and investigated the Watergate scandal and the Iran-Contra affair. Jim Neal died peacefully last month at the ripe age of 81; he leaves as part of his great legal legacy the law firm of Neal & Harwell, PLC, which boasts some of the best lawyers ever to come to the bar. We’ll all miss him.
Thomas Beasley earned his undergraduate degree from West Point and served in Vietnam, the Panama Canal Zone, and Nicaragua. He went to Vanderbilt for law school with a little bit of rare jewelry: a Silver Star and two Bronze Stars for valor. Following law school he co-founded Corrections Corporation of America, the nation’s leading correctional solutions company. He established a scholarship, the Thomas W. Beasley Scholarship, which is awarded to veterans of the U.S. armed forces, including those remaining on active status during law school.
Brett Carter went to law school at the University of Memphis and earned his LL.M. in tax from Georgetown. He also knows how to drive a tank; Brett is a commissioned JAG officer in the Tennessee National Guard and deployed to Iraq with the 278th RTC in 2004 and 2005, where he earned a Bronze Star. Waller Lansden is very proud to call him one of our own.
Scott Goldman graduated from Vanderbilt Law School the same day that I did. He’s an award-winning and academically accomplished young man who had the opportunity to have his pick of the most prestigious law firms in the country, but he went to boot camp instead. He’s a first lieutenant in the JAG corps now, showing his classmates the true meaning of success and dedication.
From the Young Lawyers Blog, thank you to all of our veterans, who walk through hell so the rest of us don’t have to follow in their boot-prints.