John Seigenthaler has been a cherished friend and trusted mentor since he hired me to work for him in 1971 at the then "Nashville Tennessean."
When I returned to Tennessee from Vietnam, I had no idea what I was going to do for employment, so I was excited and grateful when he offered me a job. He quickly became an important mentor to me. He had a passion for seeking the truth that pulled him and everyone working for him in an extremely powerful way toward the core truths about whatever subject was under investigation or being reported
Five years later, on a Friday afternoon, February 29, 1976, he called on the telephone while I was dropping my law school books off at home and preparing to drive to work at the newspaper. “We’ve got a story for Monday morning’s paper," he began. "Joe L. Evins (who had represented my home Congressional District, including Carthage, for 30 years) is announcing his retirement." After a pause, he added, "I thought you'd want to know about that, and for what it's worth, I think you ought to run."
That call changed my life. Three days later, because of the heads up from John, I announced my campaign for Congress from the steps of the Smith County Courthouse. But it wasn’t only that call and timely encouragement that changed my life. When I started working at the newspaper, I was totally disillusioned with politics because of my father’s defeat a year earlier and because of the deception and criminality of the Nixon Administration.
During the years I worked for him, John taught me to see politics and public service through a completely different lens. Some of the things that had earlier caused me to feel disillusioned began to appear in my mind as things that needed to be exposed and fixed. It was because of John Seigenthaler that I really came back to thinking that maybe I had some contribution to make in that field.
In all the years since, I have frequently turned to John for advice and counsel. And I found, as did so many others he mentored and inspired, that his wisdom, character and insight were always unique and invaluable. He commanded respect from all who knew him because of his integrity and character and because he was always a force for good in everything he did. Our state and our nation have lost a true giant.