The 2014 Liberty Bell Award winner is recognized for its advocacy of veterans’ rights.
Fighting for the rights of American veterans and empowering them to lead lives of respect and dignity has earned the Tulsa Chapter of the Disabled American Veterans (DAV) the 2014 Liberty Bell Award from the Tulsa County Bar Foundation.
For more than 35 years, the award has recognized a person or people who have promoted a better understanding of the rule of law, encouraged a greater respect for law and the courts, stimulated a sense of civic responsibility and/or contributed to “good government” in the community, according to the TBCF, which provides charitable assistance and legal education to Tulsa County residents.
Tulsa County Bar Association President-elect Ken Williams, a business defense attorney in Hall Estill’s environmental practice group, nominated DAV for the award because of personal experience with the organization. His father-in-law, Ray Nicholson, is a Korean War veteran whose hearing was destroyed through his service as a tank commander.
“In attempting to assist Ray in obtaining disability benefits, I learned how difficult it is for veterans and their lawyers to navigate through the Veterans Administration,” Williams wrote in his nomination letter. “I learned that only a few lawyers have gone through the process of becoming Veterans Administration certified to even practice in the area. This situation has led to widespread frustration with the system and the law that applies to disabled veterans.”
DAV works to ensure veterans and their families can access the benefits available to them, fights for the interest of America’s injured heroes on Capitol Hill, and educates the public about the sacrifices and needs of veterans transitioning back to civilian life, according to Bob Allen of Tulsa’s DAV Chapter 32.
The local DAV helps veterans with compensation claims and other VA paperwork, including applying for emergency VA grants; operates a small food bank for veterans in need and their families; and helps veterans set up households with donated furniture.
“We are dedicated to a single purpose: empowering veterans to lead high-quality lives with respect and dignity,” Allen says.
TCBF will formally recognize DAV at the May 2 Law Day Luncheon (see box), says Rachel Mathis, 2014 Law Week chairwoman and civil litigation attorney at Smakal, Munn & Mathis.
“The Tulsa Chapter of the DAV was selected because the committee felt that the volunteer work that they perform to help our veterans and the legal community exemplifies work that is representative of what the award was created to honor and recognize,” Mathis says.
Law Day 2014
While Law Day is officially May 1, various activities occurred in April, including:
A naturalization ceremony hosted by Monte Cassino School
“Civics in the Classroom” presentations by attorneys to four Tulsa-area schools on the Law Day 2014 theme, “Democracy & You”
Pre-K through 12th grade writing and art contests on the 2014 theme
May 1 — Ask a Lawyer Call-a-thon 9 a.m.-9 p.m. Attorneys will answer legal questions by phone free of charge. Presented in conjunction with the Oklahoma Bar Association. Visit www.tulsabar.com for more information.
May 2 — Law Day Luncheon 11:30 a.m., doors open; noon-1:30 p.m., lunch and program. Tulsa Country Club, 701 N. Union Ave. Robert Henry, Oklahoma City University president/CEO and former Oklahoma attorney general and 10th Circuit judge, keynote speaker. Tickets available through April 25: $35, individuals; $500, tables of 10. After April 25, contact Kevin Cousins,
918-584-5243, ext. 222, or email@example.com. Visit www.tulsabar.com.
History of Law Day
Conceived by the late Hicks Epton, a Wewoka, Okla., attorney and past president of the Oklahoma Bar Association, Law Day was established nationally in 1958 by President Dwight D. Eisenhower.
“It is fitting that the American people should remember with pride and vigilantly guard the great heritage of liberty, justice and quality under law,” Eisenhower said in his presidential proclamation. “It is our moral and civil obligation as free men and as Americans to preserve and strengthen that great heritage.”
In 1961, Congress designated May 1 a “special day of celebration by the American people in appreciation of their liberties and the reaffirmation of their loyalty to the United States of America” and as an occasion for “rededication to the ideals of equality and justice under laws.”
While many national organizations recognize Law Day, the American Bar Association, the national voluntary organization of the legal profession, is its national sponsor.
State, county and local bar associations throughout the country, including the Tulsa County Bar Association and Foundation, organize individual projects and activities in celebration of Law Day.
Source: Oklahoma Bar Association