Yesterday morning, at the Eighth Circuit Judicial Conference in Omaha, the Board of Directors of the Historical Society of the United States Courts in the Eighth Circuit had its meeting. The Historical Society of the United States Courts in the Eighth Circuit is a not-for-profit corporation organized and operating under the laws of the State of Missouri. It is governed by a board of directors made up of representatives of each of the branches. Each district court has a branch, and so does the Court of Appeals.
The Historical Society and its branches are tax exempt organizations pursuant to section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code. Importantly, and to comply with the Committee on Codes of Conduct’s Advisory Opinion No. 104, at 104-1 (PDF page 194), Participation in Court Historical Societies and Learning Centers, the Historical Society is not a part of, nor is it controlled by, any of the courts, judges or employees of the courts. On the contrary, it is controlled and run by lawyers and lay people who have an interest in preserving the history of the courts in the Eighth Circuit.
I have had the privilege of serving the Society as Chairman of the Board of Directors for some time now. My primary duty is to call the meeting of the Board of Directors to order, and then turn the meeting over to our extraordinarily dedicated President, Dick Lyford. My job is easy. That’s why I was surprised yesterday morning when Chief Judge Bill Riley presented me with a beautiful certificate and an antique oil lantern that had never been fired but was intended for use years ago on the Union Pacific Railroad. The UP’s home office is in Omaha. I was stunned because I truly don’t deserve the recognition.
What no one may have known yesterday morning is that my brother Kip, who lives in Ohio, spent his working life on the railroad as an engineer. I know that he will be jealous that I have the lantern. Despite the fact that our sibling rivalry should be long over, the fact that I have a truly unique railroad artifact that Kip wants with the same passion as the Gollum wanted the ring, but can’t have, makes me grin. Best gift ever.
Hey, Kip, look what I got!