Honorary Colonel in the Alabama State Militia

[N.B. I originally wrote this article in 2012 and it has been by far the most popular of anything I’ve written on this site. Occasionally I’ll update it, but to the best of my knowledge, it’s still one of the most in-depth studies into the topic of Honorary Alabama Colonelcy.]

Most people are familiar with the institution of Kentucky Colonels through the most famous Kentucky Colonel, Colonel Harland Sanders. Another famous Colonel is worth mentioning is Colonel Tom Parker, Elvis Presley’s manager. He received his commission from the Governor of Louisiana in 1948. He proudly bore the moniker for the rest of his life. Kentucky Colonels even have a non-profit organization for benevolent activities and to promote the Commonwealth of Kentucky. What many people may not know, however is that many states, especially in the South, also maintain similar, but less high-profile traditions of Honorary Colonels.

I have recently had the privilege of being commissioned an Honorary Colonel in the Alabama State Militia. There was no fanfare nor trip to the State Capitol for this recognition, but I am very proud to be amongst such an elite cadre. I received a certificate from Governor Robert Bentley’s office that stated the following:

Jeremy B. Blevins, having been deemed of meritorious character, is hereby commissioned as an Honorary Colonel in the Militia of the State of Alabama. He is, therefore, carefully and diligently to discharge the duties of the office to which he is appointed by doing and performing all manner of things thereunto belonging. And I do strictly charge and require all Officers and Soldiers under his command to be obedient to his orders and directions, from time to time, as he shall receive from me, or the future Governor of the State of Alabama, or of the General or other Superior Officers set over him, according to the laws for the regulation and government of the Alabama State Militia.

So what is an Honorary Colonel in the Alabama State Militia?

Composition and Administration of the State Militia Generally

To determine what an Honorary Colonel in the Alabama State Militia is, how one is appointed, and what one’s duties are, the reader must dissect the sections of the Alabama Code pertaining to the militia in general. The “laws for the regulation and government of the Alabama State Militia” are cataloged in Title 31 of the Alabama Code: “Military Affairs and Civil Defense”. § 31-2 is the military code for the State of Alabama. § 31-2-2 states:

The militia of this state shall consist of all able-bodied male citizens, and all other able-bodied males who have declared their intention to become citizens of the United States, between the ages of 17 and 45, and who are residents of the state, and of such other persons, male and female, as may upon their own application, be enlisted or commissioned therein pursuant to any provisions of this chapter, subject, however, to such exceptions and exemptions as are now, or may hereafter be created by the laws of the United States, or by the Legislature of this state, it being specifically provided that, in the event federal laws or rules and regulations promulgated pursuant thereto authorize and permit service in units or organizations of the organized militia, as defined in this chapter, by persons of more than 45 years of age, such persons are hereby authorized to continue to serve in the organized militia for so long as may be allowed by such laws, rules or regulations, all other conditions, qualifications or requirements as to eligibility for service being complied with. All affairs pertaining to the state military forces shall be administered by the State Military Department, which shall be headed by the Adjutant General, who shall be responsible to the Governor as Commander in Chief.
(Acts 1957, No. 591, p. 828, §1; Acts 1973, No. 1038, p. 1572, §2.)

This provides a basis for the well regulated Militia as mentioned in the Second Amendment of the United States Constitution within the context of the citizenry of the State of Alabama.  § 31-2-3 further defines this well regulated militia into organized and unorganized components:

The militia of the state shall be divided into the organized militia, the retired list and the unorganized militia, which together shall constitute the state military forces. The organized militia shall be composed of: an army national guard and an air national guard which forces, together with an inactive national guard, shall comprise the Alabama National Guard; the Alabama Naval Militia; and the Alabama State Guard, whenever any such force is organized by the Governor pursuant to existing laws. The National Guard, army or air, shall consist of such organizations and units as the commander in chief may from time to time authorize to be formed, all to be organized in accordance with the laws of the United States affecting the National Guard, army and air, and the regulations issued by the appropriate Secretary of the Department of Defense.
(Acts 1957, No. 592, p. 829, §2; Acts 1973, No. 1038, p. 1572, §3.)

Note that the Alabama State Guard (the Alabama State Defense Force, “ASDF”) is included in the organized militia. There is no additional definition of the unorganized militia here, but § 31-2-5 more clearly defines the opening sentence of  § 31-2-2:

The unorganized militia shall consist of all able-bodied male resident citizens of the state and all able-bodied resident males who have declared their intention to become citizens of the United States, between the ages of 17 and 45, and of such other persons, male and female, as may, upon their own application, be enlisted or commissioned therein, subject to any existing law, who are not serving in any force of the organized militia and who are not on the state retired list.
(Acts 1957, No. 592, p. 829, §3; Acts 1973, No. 1038, p. 1572, §5.)

Given that the text of the commission never uses the words “State Guard” or “State Defense Force” it is understood that the title of Honorary Colonel exists within the context of the unorganized Militia, and does not automatically place one in the organized ranks of the ASDF. The cadre of the ASDF muster at regular intervals, train, and have a rank structure patterned after the United States Army.

Uniforms and Decorations

§ 31-2-17 – 21 deal with the issue of the wearing of a uniform, which summarized says that an individual is not to wear  a uniform of the United States armed forces if they are not entitled to, and when off-duty, under specific circumstances. Note should also be made with reference to State Defense Forces and the requirement that their uniforms meet a criteria that they “shall include the distinctive mark or insignia prescribed by the Secretary of Defense to distinguish such uniform from the uniform of the United States armed forces” (§ 31-2-17). Were the unorganized militia to be ordered up, they would fall under the ASDF and then be subject to § 31-2-17.

Further down in the code, § 31-2-77 : “Service Medals and Decorations Authorized for Wear with National Guard and Naval Militia Uniforms” defines the wear of decorations on the uniforms of the National Guard and the Naval Militia. The ASDF has its own regulations (ASDF 670-1) as to the wear of decorations that follows Department of Defense Instruction 1334.01 “Wearing of the Uniform”, as well as service-specific manuals such as Army Regulation 670–1 “Wear and Appearance of Army Uniforms and Insignia”. One would assume that if a uniform is allowed for Honorary Colonels, that it would follow this regulation as well. As a veteran of the Alabama Army National Guard, I have both federal and state decorations that I would be proud to wear on an authorized Honorary Colonel uniform, but the wear of awarded decorations is authorized on civilian clothes per AR 670-1 §30-1b:

For civilian attire, individuals may wear only those awards, decorations, or insignia authorized by this regulation for wear on civilian clothing, in the same manner and approximate location as the equivalent military uniform.

Also AR 670-1 § 30-6:

Retired personnel and former members of the Army (as described above) may wear all categories of medals described in this regulation on appropriate civilian clothing. This includes clothes designed for veteran and patriotic organizations on Veteran’s Day, Memorial Day, and Armed Forces Day, as well as at formal occasions of ceremony and social functions of a military nature. Personnel may wear either full-size or miniature medals. Personnel who wear medals on civilian clothes should place the medals on the clothing in approximately the same location and in the same manner as for the Army uniform, so they look similar to medals worn on the Army uniform.

I am not certain what the guiding regulation is for other branches of service, but I am confident in saying that they are surely similar. Military decorations can look outstanding on a tailcoat for an white tie event. The Department of Veterans Affairs has also encouraged veterans to wear their decorations on Memorial Day. This practice is carried out frequently by organizations such as the American Legion and the Veterans of Foreign Wars, who wear decorations and other patriotic emblems on the sides military-style head gear.

I am aware of other states’ Honorary Colonels having official dress uniforms, which bear some resemblance to a mess dress uniform as worn by the Army. I understand that some Kentucky Colonels wear such a uniform to the Kentucky Derby. Stephen Lautens is a Kentucky Colonel sporting such a uniform. The Honorable Order of Kentucky Colonels mentions uniforms on their site.

In relation to uniforms, § 31-2-78 protects the private military property of an individual:

The personally owned uniforms, arms and equipment, required by laws or regulations of every commissioned, warrant and noncommissioned officer, musician and enlisted man of the armed forces of the state, shall be exempt from sale under any execution or other process for debt or taxes.
(Acts 1936, Ex. Sess., No. 143, p. 105; Code 1940, T. 35, §105; Acts 1973, No. 1038, p. 1572, §79.)

Commissions and the holding of Public Office

The next section to deal with the unorganized militia, though indirectly is §31-2-36:

Any citizen of this state may accept and hold a commission or warrant or enlisted membership in the armed forces of the state and reserve components of the United States without vacating any civil office, position or commission held by him. The acceptance or holding of any such military or naval commission or membership and the receipt of pay therefrom shall not constitute such holding of an office of privilege and trust under the government of this state and of the United States as shall be incompatible with holding of any civil office, executive, legislative or judicial, or position or commission under the government of this state.
(Acts 1936, Ex. Sess., No. 143, p. 105; Code 1940, T. 35, §37; Acts 1973, No. 1038, p. 1572, §37.)

Most states, if not all, have a similar provision. One can look to Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina to see this. According to his Senate web site: “Graham continues to serve his country in the U.S. Air Force Reserves and is one of only three U.S. Senators currently serving in the Guard or Reserves. He is a colonel and is assigned as a Senior Instructor at the Air Force JAG School.“. By the definition of the unorganized militia in § 31-2-2, it is clear that §31-2-36 applies to there as well.

The unorganized militia in active service

The next portion of the Code to deal with the unorganized militia is § 31-2-46, which states:

The commander in chief may at any time, in order to execute the law, suppress riots or insurrections, or to repel invasion, or for the purpose of aid and relief of citizens in disaster, in addition to the active National Guard, the inactive National Guard and the Naval Militia, order out the whole or any part of the unorganized militia. When the armed forces of the state, or a part thereof, are called to duty under the Constitution and laws of the United States or the Constitution and laws of this state, the Governor shall first order out for service the National Guard or Naval Militia, or such part thereof as may be necessary, and, if the number available be insufficient, he may then order out such part of the unorganized militia, as he may deem necessary.
(Acts 1936, Ex. Sess., No. 143, p. 105; Code 1940, T. 35, §54; Acts 1973, No. 1038, p. 1572, §47.)

§ 31-2-47 continues defining the use of the unorganized militia for active service:

Whenever any part of the unorganized militia is ordered out for active military service, or other service which may be necessary in the discretion of the Governor, it shall be governed by the same rules and regulations, and be subject to the same penalties, as the National Guard or Naval Militia. The Governor, in his discretion, may appoint and commission emergency officers in the state militia at any time. Such commissions shall expire at the end of five years from the effective date thereof.
(Acts 1936, Ex. Sess., No. 143, p. 105; Acts 1939, No. 509, p. 774; Code 1940, T. 35, §53; Acts 1973, No. 1038, p. 1572, §48.)

The verbiage in the commission for an Honorary Colonel has no time limitations, this commission is clearly different in that it has a five year expiration.

§ 31-2-48 deals with the creation of units and appointment of officers if the unorganized militia is ordered out:

The Governor shall, when ordering out the unorganized militia, designate the number. He may order them out either by call for volunteers or draft. The unorganized militia may be attached to the several organizations of the National Guard or Naval Militia, or organized into separate divisions, brigades, regiments, battalions, companies or detachments as the Governor may deem best for service. He shall appoint the commissioned officers and warrant officers in the same manner as provided in this chapter for the appointment of officers and warrant officers of the National Guard and Naval Militia.
(Acts 1936, Ex. Sess., No. 143, p. 105; Code 1940, T. 35, §55; Acts 1973, No. 1038, p. 1572, §49.)

With regards to Honorary Colonels, there are two issues to address here. One is that this deals with appointing officers after the unorganized militia has been ordered up, and the second is that the Governor will appoint officers in the same manner as he would officers of the National Guard and Naval Militia. That process is defined in § 31-2-69: 

Officers of the armed forces of the state, including the Adjutant General, shall be appointed, and shall be subject to suspension, discharge, removal or compulsory retirement as such solely on the basis of military proficiency, character and service, as determined by Department of Defense regulations and the military usages sanctioned by the military laws of the United States. The qualifications of personnel of the federally recognized National Guard shall be as prescribed in pertinent regulations and policies of the United States Department of Defense.
(Acts 1973, No. 1038, p. 1572, §70.)

Given that National Guard officers are commissioned through the Reserve Officer Training Corps or Officer Candidate School, § 31-2-48 does clearly does not apply to Honorary Colonels. It might be within the prerogative of the President, Governor, or a field grade officer to conduct a field commission of an individual, but for the past several decades, such a practice has fallen out of precedent.  Next, § 31-2-49 states:

If the unorganized militia is ordered out by draft, the Governor shall designate the persons in each county or city who are to make the draft and prescribe rules and regulations for conducting the same, which shall conform as nearly as possible to the selective service machinery that is now or may hereafter be provided for by the government of the United States in a national crisis.
(Acts 1936, Ex. Sess., No. 143, p. 105; Code 1940, T. 35, §56; Acts 1973, No. 1038, p. 1572, §50.)

Given the advent of the Department of Homeland Security, this function of the unorganized militia would appear to be superseded.What FEMA cannot handle alone, the National Guard most assuredly could handle.

§ 31-2-50 penalizes those who would refuse duty in the circumstances outlined above:

Every member of the militia ordered out for duty or who shall volunteer or be drafted, who does not appear at the time and place ordered, shall be guilty of a misdemeanor.
(Acts 1936, Ex. Sess., No. 143, p. 105; Code 1940, T. 35, §57; Acts 1973, No. 1038, p. 1572, §51.)

§ 31-2-79 protects members of the militia while in active service:

Members of the militia in the active armed forces of the state shall not be arrested on any process issued by or from any civil officer or court, except in the case of a felony or a breach of the peace, while going to, remaining at or returning from any place at which he may be required to attend for military or naval duty; nor in any case whatsoever while actually engaged in the performance of his military or naval duties, treason and murder excepted, unless with the consent of his commanding officer.
(Acts 1936, Ex. Sess., No. 143, p. 105; Code 1940, T. 35, §106; Acts 1973, No. 1038, p. 1572, §80.)

If § 31-2-79 protects, then § 31-2-83 allows for punishment:

Whenever any portion of the militia shall be called into the active service of the state to execute the law, suppress a riot or insurrection, repel invasion, protect lives and property or in aid and relief of citizens in disaster, the law, including the Uniform Code of Military Justice, the acts of Congress and rules and regulations of the Department of Defense and the regulations prescribed for the United States armed forces shall be enforced and regarded as a part of this chapter until said forces shall be duly relieved from such duty. As to offenses committed when such laws are so in force, courts-martial shall possess, in addition to the jurisdiction and power of sentence and punishment vested in them by this chapter, all additional jurisdiction and power of sentence and punishment exercised by like courts under such laws, including the Uniform Code of Military Justice and acts of Congress and rules and regulations of the Department of Defense and the regulations or laws governing the United States armed forces or the customs and usages thereof; but no punishment under such rules and regulations authorizing the taking of life shall in any case be inflicted except in time of war, invasion or insurrection, declared by a proclamation of the Governor to exist, and then only after approval by the Governor of the sentence inflicting such punishment. Imprisonment other than in a guardhouse shall be executed in county or city jails or other prisons designated by the Governor for that purpose.
(Acts 1936, Ex. Sess., No. 143, p. 105; Code 1940, T. 35, §113; Acts 1973, No. 1038, p. 1572, §84.)

There are many other sections of the Code that deal with the ordering out of soldiers, with most oriented toward the National Guard. Bear in mind that all discussion of active service with regards to active service and Honorary Colonels is purely academic. Honorary Colonels, having their commission in the unorganized militia, upon being ordered up, would become organized militia, and thus would receive a commission as an officer of the ASDF. They would not forfeit their honorary commission, but hold two, much as was the case in the wars prior to World War I.

Role of the Governor as the State’s Commander in Chief

§ 31-2-51 states:

The Governor of Alabama, or any other person lawfully administering the duties of the Office of the Governor of the state, shall be commander in chief of all the military and naval forces of the state, except when they shall be called or ordered into the service of the United States, and he shall have the power to embody the militia to repel invasion, suppress insurrection and enforce the execution of the laws, but shall not command personally in the field unless advised to do so by resolution of the Legislature.
(Acts 1936, Ex. Sess., No. 143, p. 105; Code 1940, T. 35, §58; Acts 1973, No. 1038, p. 1572, §52.)

The Governor, as Commander in Chief of the militia forces of the state leads in the same capacity that the President does as Commander in Chief of the United States armed forces, as a civilian who empowers his Generals to execute his commands. The Governor’s duties with this regard are defined in § 31-2-52, which states:

(a) The Governor of Alabama, as Commander in Chief, shall have power and is hereby authorized and directed to alter, increase, divide, annex, consolidate, disband, organize or reorganize any organization, department or unit, so as to conform as far as practicable to any organization, system, drill, instruction, type of uniform or equipment, or period of enlistment now or hereafter prescribed by the laws of the United States and rules and regulations promulgated thereunder by the Secretary of Defense for the organization, armament, training and discipline of the militia or national guard, or by the Secretary of the Navy for the organization, armament, training and discipline of the Naval Militia. For that purpose, the number of officers, warrant officers and enlisted men of any grade in any organization, corps, detachment, headquarters or staff may be increased or diminished and the grade and number of such officers, warrant officers and enlisted men may be altered to the extent necessary to secure, as far as practicable, such conformity.

(b) The Governor, as Commander in Chief, shall have the power in case of war, invasion, insurrection, riot, tumult, breach of peace, natural disaster or imminent danger thereof, to call or order all or any portion or class of the armed forces of the state into the active military or naval service of the state, to increase the land and naval forces of this state and to organize the same in accordance with the existing rules and regulations governing the armies of the United States, or in accordance with such other system as the Governor may consider the exigency to require, and such organization and increase may be either pursuant to, or in advance of, any call, draft or order of the President of the United States.

(c) The Governor may authorize all or any part of the National Guard or Naval Militia to participate in any drill, parade, review or other public exercise, or to engage in service for escort duty, and may prescribe all regulations and requirements therefor, and such expenses incidental thereto as he may authorize shall be paid as provided in this chapter for the militia in the active military or naval service of the state.

(d) The Governor of Alabama, as Commander in Chief, is hereby authorized and empowered to do and perform all acts, and to make and publish such rules and regulations, and to organize and maintain the National Guard and the Naval Militia of Alabama in every respect up to the standards required by the laws and regulations of the United States now existing or which may hereafter be enacted for the benefit of the National Guard and Naval Militia of the United States.

(e) The Governor, as Commander in Chief, is authorized to call out all or any such portion of the National Guard as he may deem advisable, upon his determination that a state of emergency exists.
(Acts 1936, Ex. Sess., No. 143, p. 105; Code 1940, T. 35, §59; Acts 1973, No. 1038, p. 1572, §53; Acts 1980, No. 80-360, p. 480.)

Having established the powers and authorities of the Governor as Commander in Chief, § 31-2-53: provides the basis for commissioning Honorary Colonels:

The personal military staff of the Governor shall consist of one officer with the rank of colonel and as many other officers as the Governor may consider appropriate with the rank of lieutenant colonel or commander, all of whom shall be appointed and commissioned by the Governor and shall hold office at his pleasure. All such officers shall be commissioned in the State Militia as aides-de-camp to the Governor, but no such officer shall be barred, by reason of being a member of the staff, from holding an active commission in the Alabama National Guard or the Alabama State Guard or a reserve commission in the Armed Forces of the United States or any civil office or employment under this state or any agency or political subdivision thereof. No member of the staff shall by virtue of such membership exercise any command or control over any part of the Alabama National Guard.
(Acts 1939, No. 509, p. 774; Code 1940, T. 35, §61; Acts 1973, No. 1038, p. 1572, §54.)

While not using the term “Honorary Colonel”, this section states several things to lead to that conclusion. The personal military staff hold their office “at his pleasure”. They are not barred from holding an active commission in the National Guard, State Guard, or United States armed forces. And finally, they cannot exercise command over any part of the National Guard.

§ 31-2-69 delineates the appointment of officers per DoD regulations:

Officers of the armed forces of the state, including the Adjutant General, shall be appointed, and shall be subject to suspension, discharge, removal or compulsory retirement as such solely on the basis of military proficiency, character and service, as determined by Department of Defense regulations and the military usages sanctioned by the military laws of the United States. The qualifications of personnel of the federally recognized National Guard shall be as prescribed in pertinent regulations and policies of the United States Department of Defense.
(Acts 1973, No. 1038, p. 1572, §70.)

This wording conflicts with the commissions “at his pleasure” in the section previously mentioned, thus clearly excluding individuals commissioned under § 31-2-53 from the provisions outlined in § 31-2-69.

Unauthorized Military Organizations

While not directly related to Honorary Colonels, pretender, or rump, militias are dealt with in § 31-2-125:

Any two or more persons, whether with or without uniform, who associate, assemble or congregate together by or under any name in a military capacity for the purpose of drilling, parading or marching at any time or place or otherwise take up or bear arms in any such capacity without authority of the Governor, must, on conviction, be fined not more than $1,000.00. This section does not apply to any school or college where military training and instruction is given under the provisions of state or federal laws, nor to the order of Knights of Templar, Knights of Pythias, Patriarchs Militant or Uniform Rank Woodmen of the World.
(Acts 1936, Ex. Sess., No. 143, p. 105; Code 1940, T. 35, §176; Acts 1973, No. 1038, p. 1572, §126.)

There are some who debate the constitutionality of such a clause and that argument made is elsewhere. In the historical context, and given the definition of the unorganized militia previously stated, this section of the Code would seem to refer to groups intent on the overthrow of state or federal government. The leaders of these organizations, acting only in the capacity of private citizens, set up for themselves a private military structure. One can wonder why these individuals, if they want to serve, wouldn’t just join the federal armed forces, the National Guard, or their state’s State Defense Force (Note: not all states have a SDF)? 

Powers and Duties of Honorary Colonels

§ 31-2-70, in dealing with powers and duties of National Guard and Naval Militia officers, states:

In addition to the powers and duties prescribed in this chapter, all officers of the National Guard and Naval Militia of Alabama shall have the same powers and perform the same duties as officers of similar rank and position in the armed forces of the United States insofar as may be authorized by federal law. They are authorized to administer oaths in all matters connected with the service.
(Acts 1936, Ex. Sess., No. 143, p. 105; Code 1940, T. 35, §82; Acts 1973, No. 1038, p. 1572, §71.)

This section clearly enumerates powers of National Guard and Naval Militia officers and does not appear applicable to other officers of the organized or unorganized militia. The next several sections of the Code are likewise inapplicable with regards to Honorary Colonels. There is nowhere in the Code that identifies the powers and duties of Honorary Colonels. As they personal military staff of the Governor, and his aides-de-camp, their powers and duties are whatever the Governor deems them to be. 

The greatest clue as to what these powers might be is in the name: “Honorary Colonel”. Just as an honorary doctorate does not mean that the individual has actually done doctorate-level research, an honorary colonelship does not mean the recipient has the years of service required to lead troops.

Conclusion

While never explicitly using the term “Honorary Colonel” in the Alabama Code, the office past and present has a clear place in the heritage of the great State of Alabama. The Governor’s prerogative to appoint such individuals is codified in § 31-2-53.

Looking back at the Kentucky Colonels, the post is ceremonial and they serve as goodwill ambassadors for the Commonwealth of Kentucky.

Likewise, the Honorary Colonels in the Alabama State Militia are goodwill ambassadors for the State of Alabama. They are individuals that the Governor has determined to present this honor to. I am very proud to have received such an honor.

Update: 19 July 2012

Since I originally created this post, I have been contacted by several individuals interested in Alabama Colonelcy. Given the dearth of information on this subject that is available online, my discussion on the matter seems to draw some attention.

I’d like to share some information that I received from Kelley Lee, the the Governor’s Proclamations Officer, on the subject. With regards to who can receive the honor, the Proclamations Office “only supplies Honorary Colonel certificates to U.S. citizens, specifically Alabama citizens and residents. “. Following that, I asked if there were any authoritative resources on the topic, to which the reply was: “It is simply something that is done for ‘fun’. They hold no official title or authority, and will most certainly never be commissioned or called upon by the Governor.” I’m a little befuddled by the “never be commissioned” statement, given that the text of the certificate specifically refers to it as a commission. It is understood that this isn’t a military commission, yet it is an honorary commission nonetheless.

However, anyone expecting military command from an Honorary Colonelcy will be as disappointed as Lord Grantham was on Downton Abbey. Lord Grantham (aka Hugh Bonneville) was devastated to learn that his Honorary Colonelcy was just that, a symbolic gesture. He could raise no troops under his command, but he did get to wear a nifty uniform and attend some great dinners.

Update: 2 August 2012

I received a phone call from Ms. Lee pertaining to a letter I had written the Governor on Honorary Colonelcy, which I had actually mailed prior to the email from her referenced above. She reiterated that the commission is “just for fun” and added that it had “always” been just for fun. I am aware of individuals who had been commissioned by other governors who believe that there was a little more to it than just for fun when they received their honor. Ms. Lee also said that she has had communication with her peers in other states and that is their view of Honorary Colonelcies as well. I’ll have to take her word on that. I don’t want to antagonize her on the issue, but I would take issue that this has always been “for fun”. I will concede and throw out another broad assumption that “no one” believes that this is a military commission that imparts on them any military authority.

So let’s look at what some of Alabama’s neighbors require for their highest honors:

Update: 1 February 2013

I’ve noticed that this particular post consistently ranks as the first or second hit in a major search engine and at this juncture in time has been viewed over 500 times. Since our topic is “just for fun”, below are the Google trends for the search terms “honorary colonel”, “Alabama colonel”, and “Alabama state militia”: ~~~
[Note: all emphasis in quoted text was done so by the author of this post.]

Update: 17 February 2019

It’s been sometime since I last updated this post, but on 17 January 2019 the honor of Honorary Colonel was re-bestowed upon me by Governor Kay Ivey. While an appointment from successive Governors is not essential to maintain the honor, as evidenced in the phrase near the end of the commissioning statement “… as he shall receive from me, or the future Governor of the State of Alabama”, I am nonetheless honored to have in hand a commissioning certificate with Governor Ivey’s signature on it. In comparing it to the previous certificate, the text is slightly different.

Mr. Jeremy B. Blevins, having been deemed of meritorious character, is hereby commissioned as an Honorary Colonel in the Militia of the State of Alabama. He is, therefore, carefully and diligently to discharge the duties of the office to which he is appointed by doing and performing all manner of things thereunto belonging. And I do strictly charge and require all Officers and Soldiers under his command to be obedient to his orders as an officer of his grade and position. And he is to observe and follow such orders and directions, from time to time, as he shall receive from me, or the future Governor of the State of Alabama, or of the General or other Superior Officers set over him, according to the laws for the regulation and government of the Alabama State Militia.

I’m curious to learn what precipitated the change in verbiage, and what the significance of the addition is.

The most important general in America is Dollar General

[N.B. I originally posted this on LinkedIn.]

Right now, I daresay the most important general in America is Dollar General.

In the BC era (before COVID-19) my family, like many families in rural America, exploited the availability of fast and cheap shipping to have our every whim delivered straight to our door. We had our choice of retailers to fulfill our orders. That all began to change rapidly once the quarantining began.

Before moving on to the present situation, let me explain why we weren’t just picking things up locally. I live in a small town nestled in the south end of a fairly large national forest. The closest Wal-Mart is nearly a 30 minute drive away. The closest Target is nearly an hour away. We have two fast food franchises, a locally-owned grocery store, and a Dollar General. I imagine throughout these United States that there are many similar communities. While we frequented our local Dollar General, they didn’t have the selection we’ve grown accustomed to, so much of our purchasing was done online.

We, like many others started seeing our shipments being delayed or completed cancelled in the past week or so. The last shipment we received from one of the large retailers was so hastily shipped that a couple of items were pretty banged up, but not too damaged to use. That source of supplies has essentially dried up. The online model of business, from my vantage point, is not working well in the current crisis.

Enter Dollar General. I’ve seen it said here in Alabama that we don’t measure driving speed by miles per hour, but by Shunnarahs per Dollar General. [N.B. for those who aren’t in the know, Alexander Shunnarah is an attorney whose visage is emblazoned across billboards throughout the state.] Dollar General has over 15,000 stores spread across 44 states1, compared to Wal-Mart’s 5,355 stores in all 50 states2. That’s roughly a Dollar General every ten miles or so down rural highways across America. In urban areas, they are even at closer intervals3. The rural areas are markets that aren’t served by Wal-Mart, or Target, or essentially anyone else; they aren’t large enough to warrant the investment. In larger towns, one might also see another dollar store franchise, and maybe even a non-“Super” Wal-Mart, but in across the country, Dollar General may be the only store in town.

So what does this have to do with COVID-19? Areas that aren’t on full lockdown are still being cautious. With mandated limitations on group sizes, larger stores are out of the question. With shopping curtailed and shipping handicapped, a trip to the local dollar store may be the only viable option.

Dollar General stores are by design smaller than a Wal-Mart or a Target. You can’t stuff as many people in a Dollar General, thus less opportunity for exposure. They may not have a great variety of stuff (and a limited selection of food), but chances are, they probably have what you need in the present crisis, unless it’s toilet paper. No one has toilet paper… 

Until we are on complete and mandatory lockdown, there will be some amount of shopping going on. We must be judicious in where we shop until the present crisis passes. That being said, its only going to take one infectious person in any venue to spread the virus. This could have a huge impact on rural communities, because like Wal-Marts, hospitals are few and far between.

I’d like to end with praise to the unsung heroes of the present “conflict”. I want to express my gratitude to the cashiers and stockers who show up to work everyday facing unseen risk. I want to thank the folks handing food out the drive-through window because we still don’t want to cook for ourselves. They’ve been put in a situation that they didn’t spend years training for and aren’t making very much money to do. If you’ve been out in the past few days, you see how frazzled these folks are getting. Maybe in this current situation we should consider tipping for jobs that we don’t normally tip for? 

There is another invisible group of heroes we need to recognize: the truck drivers and warehouse workers who keep the stuff flowing to the shelves. Without those vile, diesel guzzling behemoths on the road, we’d be in quite a pickle right now, wouldn’t we?

In closing, if Dollar General is the most important general in America, then our friends and neighbors on the other side of the register or behind the steering wheel are the enlisted troops fighting the battle for us. I don’t think most of us understand the criticality of their contribution in this battle. I, however, salute them.

  1. https://aboutus.dollargeneral.com/
  2. https://corporate.walmart.com/our-story/locations/united-states
  3. https://www.npr.org/2017/12/11/569815331/loving-and-hating-dollar-general-in-rural-america

The Intergalactic Presence of the Blevins Clan

Often on my commute I listen to audio books. I bounce between books on history and religion, but occasionally I’ll listen to fiction. The fiction book I am currently listening to is Star Wars: Aftermath. I’m not here to write a book review, but to notice one passing reference that 99.999% of the world will pay no attention to: Captain Blevins. His only reference in the story is when a character named Sinjir Rath Velus recounts seeing Blevins dead on the moon of Endor during the battle that took place there in The Return of the Jedi. According to Velus, Blevins was a “bully and a braggart who had truly believed in the Empire’s ideals”[1].

While that may be sad for Blevinses who pulled for the Rebel Alliance, over the years, I’ve come to realize that the Empire were the good guys, but the victors get to write the history books. Captain Blevins died an unsung hero of the Empire’s effort to maintain order against the rising chaos. But I digress…

So where did author Chuck Wendig get the inspiration for Captain Blevins? I don’t know for certain, but my guess is Bret Blevins, a comic book artist, story board artist, and fine art painter[2]. According to Wookiepedia, Mr. Blevins has done art for some Star Wars comics[3]. In fact, Mr. Blevins has drawn quite a few recognizable comic characters in his career. He has some excellent examples of his art posted to his website.

We may never know if Bret Blevins is the namesake of the ill-fated Captain Blevins, but we can be certain that if there are Blevinses in a galaxy far away, then the name lives on.

References:

  1. https://starwars.fandom.com/wiki/Blevins
  2. http://www.bretblevins.com/
  3. https://starwars.fandom.com/wiki/Bret_Blevins

Comments on “How (and Why) to Dress Like a (Southern) Conservative, Part I”

I originally posted a link to the article “How (and Why) to Dress Like a (Southern) Conservative, Part I” on the now-defunct Society of Southern Gentlemen blog in 2016. I’m in the process of integrating all my posts from that site here. Normally I’m just copying them over and keeping their original timestamps, but for this article, all I had originally done was to post the URL, but with this article, I want to provide some commentary on Dr. Dan E. Phillips’ original article from the Abbeville Institute site.

Dr. Phillips began his article on the defensive explaining he is a married man with children, to which I would say there is absolutely nothing wrong with being a straight, masculine dandy. A Southern Gentleman (Dr. Phillips uses the term “traditional conservative” or “trad con” in article, but for reasons that will be come apparent shortly, I’ll make use of the term “Southern Gentleman”) does not need to rationalize nor defend his sartorial acumen. The Dr. has my full sympathy in the story he conveyed of his progeny having no clue what a “summer” shoe was. I think all of us who have taken the effort to establish a seasonal wardrobe have experienced such apathy from the lesser enlightened amongst our own families.

Dr. Phillips went on to say:

I have also, since young adulthood, identified as a paleo or traditionalist conservative, as opposed to the more common type of modern “movement” conservative. This combination of interests in traditional fashion norms and traditional conservative politics has led me to think along the lines of the title of this essay for some time now. While this set of interests strikes me as logically consistent, my experience suggests that it is not a particularly common combination.

Dr. Phillips’ statement about modern “movement” conservatism reminds me of a question I often ask myself of so-called “conservatives”: what are they trying to conserve? So far as I can tell, they don’t conserve anything, except Lincoln-era Radical Republicanism, and even then they usually roll over in the face of opposition from their political opponents, but I digress…

An article that has stuck with me for years now was published by the Mises Institute in 2009 under the title “Dress Like the Great Depression” by Mr. Jeffrey A. Tucker. Like Dr. Phillips’ article, this one is definitely worth your consideration.

© Mises Institute

Just look at this guy in this Depression-era photo. See the 1 ¾ inch cuffs on his trousers, the snappy crease in his pants, the great hat, and the woolen trousers? And the shoes: leather and laces resting on a solid foundation. If I found any of his clothes in the vintage shop, I would snap them up and be ready for today’s tight job market, which seeks serious men, not goofs in sweats and polos.

The boom times led to great shabbiness. Workers have lived in wrinkles and jeans. The guy with the shirt with buttons is derided by others — “You going to a wedding or something?” We were all encouraged to look up to the slobwear of hotshot traders and stock jobbers and the others, who revel in the fact that they look like heck all of the time. Even the billionaires have looked like hobos (who themselves looked pretty great in the 1930s).

https://mises.org/library/dress-great-depression

Since adulthood, I’ve tried to dress in a manner to give the impression that I want others to have of me. Vanity of vanities, I want others to see me as “important” and worthy of their respect. Maybe its plain arrogance, I don’t know. An article on Forbes some years back provides me the reassurance that I’m not the only person out there thinking like this:

Clinical psychologist Dr. Jennifer Baumgartner literally wrote the book on this phenomenon, which she calls the “psychology of dress.” In “You Are What You Wear: What Your Clothes Reveal About You,” she explains not only how psychology determines our clothing choices, but how to overcome key psychological issues your wardrobe might be bringing to light in your everyday life, or even at work.

Americans rely on clothing as an economic and social indicator because there aren’t official marks of rank such as a caste system or aristocracy, says Dr. Baumgartner.

There’s no one piece or style that makes a person look successful. Dr. Baumgartner recommends the basics when trying to project a positive image: the little black dress, the blazer, the pumps. “With classics, history has done the work for you. It has lasted throughout time, so you already know it works,” she says. And what is it that makes a classic a classic? “It has multiple functions, and it’s appropriate for different age ranges and body types. It became a classic because it works no matter who you are.”

https://www.forbes.com/sites/learnvest/2012/04/03/what-your-clothes-say-about-you/#434733966992

Getting back to Dr. Phillips’ article, he goes on to say:

This lack of focus on appropriate attire within trad con circles is unfortunate, because I believe aesthetics are an important part of the whole trad con package. Upon consideration, I have concluded that there are two ways to dress that could signal to the world, so to speak, one’s conservative leanings, not including simply wearing an NRA or Hillary for Prison or whatever t-shirt. The first, the subject of this essay, would be to consciously make “dressing up” your baseline public presentation. The second will be the subject of part II. As we will see, today’s dressing up was yesterday’s routine attire. As a traditionalist conservative, I have developed something of a motto: “If you want to restore the past, you should act like you are living in it.” This manner of dressing would follow that logic.

[N.B. It appears from a search of the Abbeville Institute site that Part II of this article was never written.

I think Dr. Phillips is spot on when he says “If you want to restore the past, you should act like you are living in it.” I recognized this the first time I read The Great Gatsby. Jay Gatsby wasn’t trying to restore the past in the book, but my interest in emulating the fashion of that era was because I believed it to be a better period in American history. I’ve since learned it wasn’t the Roaring Twenties that I longed for, but the Edwardian era that preceded it. It’s just that the Twenties were a transition era in fashion that closely resemble things that we still can wear today, if only we allow ourselves to.

Dr. Phillips goes on to mention an article he’d read in 2003 that references an earlier article written by Mr. Jeffrey Tucker, the author of the aforementioned article on dressing like its the Great Depression. Dr. Phillips states:

Mr. Tucker makes an important point that most modern Americans miss since our current norms have been the standard for decades, but much of what people routinely wear today are, by historical standards, work clothes or otherwise not clothes once considered suitable for public presentation. Jeans, for example, used to be exclusively for manual labor, not a fashion statement.

I try very hard to live by this, and only very rarely wear jeans. They don’t represent the image I want to portray of myself. This causes me to stand out in my local community, and once I was mistaken for a preacher in town who shares my surname because I was “dressed up” and it wasn’t even Sunday morning. There are situations where not blending in is counterproductive, but that’s a whole other topic for another time. Dr. Phillips went on to say:

This is why cotton khakis are considered “casual,” a designation that used to confuse me. Since they are not jeans, I, like many others, believed that putting on a pair of khakis constituted dressing up, but historically, this is not the case. Khakis are rightly considered informal primarily weekend attire, particularly if your day is going to include a lot of outdoor activity. Routine attire would be a wool pant. (Since these norms were generally suited for the North, some accommodation to the reality of weather in the South is allowed.)

In the ignorance of my youth, I wore unkempt, ragged jeans because that’s all I had. We didn’t go to church, so I had no church clothes to speak of, either. When I got to high school, I saw wearing khakis as somehow demonstrating that I had stepped up somehow in social status. I wanted to be a “prep” although in sincere honesty, even those who I though were “rich” by my estimation due to their neat appearance were at best lower middle class. They dressed nice, and that’s what I aspired to.

As I entered the technology workforce, I took my new attire of khakis and polo shirts with me. It was several years later that I realized that my “fancy” clothes were now the uniform at Best Buy. I was still sartorially illiterate. I’m by no means an excellent dresser now, but I recognize how I should try to dress to emote the image I desire of myself.

Before I get back to Dr. Phillips’ article, I’d like to share something I learned from a book written as satire of the WASPy Prep culture of New England. In a chapter dedicated to “Dressing the Part”, Ms. Lisa Birnbach provides these ten fashion fundamentals (with my comments):

  1. Conservatism. Preppies wear clothes for twenty-five years and no one can tell the difference. Hear, hear. Were it not for the fact that my waistline has increased in that period of time, I’d gladly adhere to this principle.
  2. Neatness. Preppies’ shirts stay tucked in, through all kinds of strenuous exercise. This is one attribute that has sadly not been maintained in the near forty years since Ms. Birnbach wrote her treatise. I remember this being the rule for us ne’erdowells at the McDonald’s I worked at in high school. When I go into a fast food establishment today, I see outfits slopped together about as haphazardly as the obesity bombs they pass across the counter for my glutinous consumption. There again, a true preppie would never eat at such an establishment, much less work there. There is one exception to this here in the South though: Chic-Fil-A. The Cathy family runs a tight ship, and the manners and professionalism their employees exude would rival that to be learned at any finishing school, in my humble estimation.
  3. Attention to Detail. Subtleties in cut, weave, or color distinguish the merely good from the Prep. One who is well put-together in attire, is also likely to be well put-together in intelligence and emotion.
  4. Practicality. Prep clothes are sensible… As are a Southern Gentleman’s attire.
  5. Quality. Everything in the wardrobe should be well made. It’s important here that we don’t equate expense to quality, nor brand names to quality. That bastion of Southern accoutrement, Belk, occasionally sells wares of no better quality than the French department store, Target (pronounced “tar zshay”), yet us simple country folk think it to be upscale. Likewise, not everything Mr. Lauren slaps his name on fits the bill, either. We might not want to patronize the shops of the Brothers Brooks, but, the old maxim “you get what you pay for” is often true.
  6. Natural Fibers. Wool, cotton, and the odd bits of silk and cashmere are the only acceptable materials for Prep clothes. There’s something to be said of eschewing the wear of chemical by-products. There’s also some truth in the old chestnut “cotton is rotten”. I think Ms. Birnbach’s principle here has been overcome by events due to the advances in synthetic fibers in the past several decades.
  7. Anglophilia. The British have a lot to answer for: Shetland sweaters, Harris tweeds, Burberrys, tartans, and regimental ties. The Southern Gentleman, while abhorring poor King George the Third, still admires aristocracy, and may even have a fondness in his heart for the current Royal family, although for the life of us we can’t figure out why Prince Harry didn’t learn anything about Americans from the former King Edward VIII. Speaking for myself, one of my role models is the Duke of Edinburgh. Oh, and Burberry; one word: chav.
  8. Specific Color Blindness. Primary colors and brilliant pastels are worn indiscriminately by men and women alike in preposterous combinations. I’m glad that genetic strain has somewhat been limited to the Northeast, albeit I think some of the Yankee immigrants might have introduced it down here.
  9. The Sporting Look. Even if they have never been near a duck blind or gone beagling, Preppies are dressed for it. Here is where Southern folk are getting it wrong. Mossy Oak is not proper going-to-town attire. If your Sunday best has deer antlers silk-screened on it, you are wrong. If I can see you in your camo, then you are wearing it in the wrong place.
  10. Androgyny. Men and women dress as much alike as possible and clothes for either sex should deny specifics of gender. And here is the gulf that divides the Southern Gentleman from his Yankee preppie counterpart. Here in the South, our Tradition prevents us from androgyny, and we’ll even throw a couple Bible verses at you to back up our stance.

All that being said, The Official Preppy Handbook has its place in my library and is worthy of consideration to add to yours.

Returning to Dr. Phillips’ article, he references a Mr. Stephen Carson, who he finds of a kindred sartorial spirit. Mr. Carson observes that mens fashions were stable until the “hippie counter-culture” rejected the status quo. Dr. Phillips makes a good point in it about the show Mad Men “chronicl[ing] th[e] sartorial decline”. Dr. Phillips ended his article with this paragraph:

Why would modern day trad cons want to rubber stamp a change brought about by counter-cultural forces that have also contributed to the degeneration of our traditional society in many other ways than clothing standards? Perhaps trad cons should instead counter-signal, so to speak, our prevailing cultural decline by consciously embracing a manner of dress and norms that characterized a bygone era and still characterizes the dress of certain people of a particular station? Since routinely dressing appropriately is so counter to the modern norm, it is a potentially subversive act. When people ask you why you are dressed up, tell them. This could potentially impact a lot more people than writing essays that preach to the choir, or campaigning for Republican candidate A, or whatever else it is we do to try to restore right order to our civilization in free fall.

My greatest and only disappointment with Dr. Phillips’ article is that it appears that Part II was never written. Since I can only speculate on what he might have said, I am going to use it as a springboard for a few of my views on the subject.

First, it is possible to dress well as an act of defiance. When I think of this, there are a two groups of men who come to mind. The first I’d like to mention are Les Sapeurs, who show that extreme poverty is no excuse not to dress well. I first heard of them in an article in The Chap in 2017. From the article:

The sapeur style and relationship to clothes is unique – a throwback to a lost world of pre-colonial elegance and decadence and at the same time it is futuristic. Members have their own code of honour, codes of professional conduct and strict notions of morality.

©NetflixUK&Ireland

Second, are the Peaky Blinders. I know, they were a street gang from the post WWI era who have been glamorized by the eponymous TV Show. Similar to Les Sappers, the Peaky Blinders defied their poor living conditions to dress nice. The Chap provides a great guide on where (in the UK) to buy clothes to emulate the style from the show. Granted, clothing suited for Birmingham, England, is a bit too warm for Birmingham, Alabama in all but the coldest of Winter.

So, getting back to the premise of Dr. Phillips’ original article, how do we develop a fashion that identifies us as a Southern Gentleman? The answer is right in front of us: go back through the vast archive of the Internet and rediscover how a Southern Gentleman dressed.

Now, it takes more than fabric draped over the body to “wear” a style. You have to be comfortable in it, or it just becomes a costume you’ve put on. For example, I’ve acquired a certain penchant for flat caps over the past several years, although I am still refining that style. I’ve moved on from the narrower variety co-opted by hipsters to the wider, “newsboy style”, as worn by the cast of Peaker Blinders (above). Mr. Sven Raphael Schneider has an excellent guide to the differences on his website. Wearing this style of head gear in a sea of baseball caps is quite scandalous is some small towns. People may not know me by name in my town, but they know me by my flat caps.

© Los Angeles Times

That being said, there is a wrong way to wear this cap if you’re trying to exude Gentlemanliness. I very much doubt anyone would confuse these blokes with Southern Gentlemen, although to be fair, their homeland is much further south than my beloved Dixie. They’re also getting on up there in years, so that Highway to Hell might be a little shorter than it was when Mr. Young first put on that schoolboy uniform.

Staying on the thought avoiding a costume appearance, It has to fit in with the points Ms. Birnbach made in her seminal work. It has to look like you’ve always dressed this way. Again, be psychologically comfortable in what you are wearing. That goes way beyond the fit of the clothes.

© Bloomburg LP

Now, I’m going to speak heresy for a moment: a MAGA hat does not a Gentleman make. It’s one thing to wear a lapel pin, campaign button, or other small object of affiliation, but a true Southern Gentleman does not adorn himself like a political NASCAR.

© Wild turkey Bourbon

A true Southern Gentleman is not a walking billboard for his political affiliations, sports teams, or favorite adult beverages. Such attire informs those in proximity of such persons that they suffer from the malady of consumerism. Such behavior indicates they are mindless servants to their marketing overlords. Matthew McConaughey may be sipping Wild Turkey while driving his Lincoln Navigator (or was it a Continental?), but I gar-on-tee he ain’t wearing no logo t-shirt when he gets out at Wal-Mart to pick up a new bottle of Stetson. Be reactionary, do not pay money to advertise for the products that you pay to consume.

While I’m stepping on toes, a true Southern Gentleman doesn’t show up at his hipster church in blue jeans and a t-shirt sipping his overpriced latte, because in post-modern churchianity, we all just come as we are. The Apostle Paul, in his letter to the Christians in Corinth (Greece, not Mississippi), said “When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways.” (1 Corinthians 13:11, ESV). We have to do the same. The Southern Gentleman goes to church to worship God and dresses appropriately to be in the presence of the Almighty Creator of the universe. Talk about a reactionary stance!

I hope I’ve been able to do justice to Dr. Phllips’ original intent while infusing some of my own views on the topic. If I were to summarize my ramblings, is suppose it would be these major points:

  • Sometimes the path forward is to retrace steps already trodden.
  • Stand out. Be the man you want to be while your peers are still acting like boys.
  • Don’t be a consumer sheep awaiting your slaughter.
  • Save the blue jeans and t-shirts for their proper place: yard work.

A Commentary on Mr. Jeff Fitzgerald’s 15 Things A Man Must Do To Be Considered A True Southern Gentleman

In perusing the Internet I stumbled across an article written by a Mr. Jeff Fitzgerald titled 15 Things A Man Must Do To Be Considered A True Southern Gentleman. I’m not familiar with Mr. Fitzgerald and have not read anything else he’s written, but he makes a pretty good summary of fifteen food-related mannerisms of a Southern Gentleman. I recommend perusal of the full article, but I want to take a moment to apply Mr. Fitzgerald’s points to other areas of a Southern Gentleman’s essence.

  1. A Southern Gentleman is fad-proof. While this is true of multiple aspects of a Southern Gentleman’s life, it does not mean that he never adapts to the changes of society around him. Observations of manners of dress among Southern Gentlemen will indicate that while lapels and ties grow and shrink as trends wax and wane, a well curated wardrobe can weather the seasons of time from one’s teenage years onto later in life (barring the ebb and flow of ones waistline, to be certain). Likewise, the Southern Gentleman can appreciate music across multiple genres and generations, depending on the mood and the venue. When in New Orleans or Memphis, he mellows to the tunes of B.B. King or Louis Jordan. In Nashville, it might be Brad Paisley, Jerry Reed, or the man in black, Johnny Cash. In Huntsville, it’s Microwave Dave and the Nukes. In all aspects of life, a Southern Gentleman doesn’t eschew the old just because something new is trending.
  2. A Southern Gentleman has time to say entire words. Here, Mr. Fitzgerald is terse but precise, and the only things I would add to what he said in his article is that anything worth saying is worth clearly enunciating.
  3. A Southern Gentleman can cook. Yes sir, he can.
  4. A Southern Gentleman eats what is put in front of him, and receives it gladly. A Southern Gentleman is also appreciative of other acts of kindness and hospitality. When someone offers us a gift, we shouldn’t turn it down. This is an insult to the generosity of the giver. We accept it graciously and look for a way to pay it forward to someone else.
  5. A Southern Gentleman knows how to dine properly at a white tablecloth restaurant or a roadside Barbecue stand. In all areas of life, a Southern Gentleman knows the protocol for the event. He blends in with others around himself without being out of place.
  6. A Southern Gentleman never, ever wastes food. And a Southern Gentleman is a conservator of all that God has blessed him with. He’s not an environmentalist zealot, but he cares for nature. That’s often difficult to do in our disposable, consumerist society, but he tries, nonetheless.
  7. A Southern Gentleman always treats the restaurant wait staff with kindness and respect. And the janitor, and the lady at the checkout counter, and so forth.
  8. A Southern Gentleman respects tradition, but relishes new experiences. Going back to my earlier musical reference, just because he listens to Johnny Cash and B.B. King doesn’t mean he can’t also enjoy the Lacs or CeeLo Green. Even anachronistic curmudgeons need to freshen up the playlist every now and then. This applies across all aspects of life.
  9. A Southern Gentleman would gladly lay down his life for his family, his friends, his fellow man, or his country. But if he’s going to make that sacrifice, it had better be worth it. The Southern Gentleman who has served in the military made an oath to “support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; …will bear true faith and allegiance to the same“. He is honor-bound to uphold his oath even when the politicians are less than honorable and do not uphold theirs.
  10. A Southern Gentleman doesn’t lord his culinary knowledge over others. And he doesn’t berate others with less education or experience than he has. While he may be better educated and well-off, he doesn’t make a show of it. Does that mean he speaks like an imbecile? No, he speaks eloquently, as a man of proper breeding naturally does. He speaks intelligently and respectfully, but not in a manner that puts down others who have not the education or experience he has been blessed with.
  11. A Southern Gentleman also doesn’t feign expertise, nor does he refuse advice. This statement extends well beyond food into all aspects of the Southern Gentleman’s life.
  12. A Southern Gentleman understands that Southern food is not one thing, but a collection of distinct regional cookery further delineated by the individual styles of predominantly domestic cooks. Likewise, there is not just one Southern culture. A Southern Gentleman from New Orleans will have very different traits from his colleagues in Nashville, Huntsville, Charleston, or Richmond.
  13. A Southern Gentleman is respectful of, and knowledgeable about, other cultures’ food. Mr. Fitzgerald’s comment on Philly cheesesteak’s is spot-on. Having eaten a real cheesesteak while working in the Philadelphia area, anything else is a weak imitation. Likewise, a Southern Gentleman is respectful of, and knowledgeable about, other cultures in general. A Southern Gentleman will not be dismissive of a culture just because it is not his own.
  14. A Southern Gentleman is never completely dry. On this point I must disagree with Mr. Fitzgerald, unless he allows a glass of sweet iced tea to count toward whetting one’s whistle.
  15. And finally, a Southern gentleman eats. Mr. Fitzgerald eloquently describes the decorum a Southern Gentleman maintains when engaging in this most pleasing activity. Borrowing Mr. Fitzgerald’s words and making an expanded application: “He sits down to a [pursuit] and devotes his time and attention to the enjoyment of the [pursuit] and company“. Anything worth doing is worth doing right and enjoying thoroughly, while in the company of one’s friends and family.

I sincerely enjoyed Mr. Fitzgerald’s article and the opportunity to ponder and make other application of it. My only regret is that it took me so many years to discover it.

Migrating articles from the Bleddyn Heritage site

Several years back I set up Bleddyn Heritage with the best of intentions of creating a site dedicated to all things related to the surname Bleddyn, with all its derivative spellings. Well… Several years later, I’ve really not done a whole lot with the site, so I’ve migrated the meagre few posts I created there to this site. As I put them here, I kept their original date stamps so they appear here chronologically of when I wrote them in the first place.

While I still plan to maintain that domain name for a future, yet-to-be-identified purpose, It won’t have any content that isn’t on this site as well. For the time being, I am going to redirect that domain to point here. If you’re interested in what was on that site, here are the articles I migrated over:

Becoming Jed

Long ago when I was attending 35E school at Ft. Gordon, GA, I was bestowed the moniker “Jed” for my most excellent Southern accent. The Yankee colleague who addressed me with this Appalachian appellation did so in joking condescension, yet I decided to embody his insult in pride. I went out and bought a pair of cowboy boots and started listening to Country music.

I’m twenty years removed from those days at Ft. Gordon, and while I’ve tried not to be a caricature of Southernness, I’ve never denied my heritage. While I work in arguably one of the most advanced cities in the World (yes, here in Alabama), I’ve chosen to live in the country, in a County that attempted to secede from the Great State of Alabama during the War of the Northern Aggression, no less. We are in fact the only County in the State that still doesn’t have a single four-lane road.

Recently, my wife and I binged the first two seasons of Beverly Hillbillies. I’d watched the show as a kid, but never in sequence and never these early episodes. I have decided that The Beverly Hillbillies is one of the greatest TV shows of all time and is just as relevant today as it was in 1962. I am amazed that it’s not been banned because of the positive light it portrayed on the Confederacy. Granny is an ardent sympathizer, and at one point, “whomps” Jethro on the head for not showing proper respect for the President, Jefferson Davis.

I think one thing I never realized as a kid is that the Clampetts weren’t from Appalachia (although Granny grew up there), they were from the Ozarks. It was never made clear on the show if they lived in Arkansas or Missouri, but that minor detail is irrelevant.

While Jed was not a rich man in the beginning, he was an honorable man, a noble hillbilly, if you will. There is an innocence to the entire Clampett clan. The only one with any worldly inclinations was Cousin Pearl, Jethro’s mother. It was upon her insistence that Jed uprooted the family to move to “Californi”. Even her worldview was limited to the world as she saw it through the old movies screened at the theater where Pearl played “Pie-annie” to provide soundtrack to the silent pictures.

The Clampetts weren’t ignorant rubes. Theirs was a world of isolation from the rest of the country, much as I would envision the Amish in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. The Modern folk out in Beverly Hills were just urbane and worldly, they weren’t more intelligent. One of my greatest amusements from the series is how the Clampetts and Mr. Drysdale and others would talk past each other. They all spoke English, but they were speaking different languages.

One of the greatest traits expressed by Jed Clampett was the sincere pitty he felt for others. He didn’t try to convert them to his worldview (as they did him), but offered hospitality and genuine concern; both hallmarks of a true Southern Gentleman. He never comprehended the vastness of his newfound wealth, and he did not let Mammon change the man he was.

We’d all be better men to emulate the wonderful traits of Jed. He feared God and loved his family.

Modern TV has not reproduced this character, to its discredit. They portray Hillbillies as bumbling fools. I’d contend the closest they’ve came to the honorable Jed Clampett is Jacob Snell, from the show Ozark. Like Jed, Jacob’s family has been in the hills for generations. Jacob has a code of honor, but he’s a local crime lord, growing poppies and controlling the local heroin supply. People who get sideways of him end out dead.

But back to his code of honor, he holds himself to a higher standard than your regular, run of the mill white trash. This is made clear in one episode where he is dealing with a colleague’s failure. In speaking with the lesser individual, he shares a parable about a redneck and a hillbilly:

A redneck and a hillbilly are strolling along a country lane, talking about the Garden of Eden.

The redneck, drinking whiskey as he walks believes that Adam and Eve had every right to take that apple for, if God were kind why would he forbid them from partaking in that delicious fruit? The hillbilly listens and nods.

Then the redneck finishes the bottle and throws it onto the path. When the hillbilly frowns the redneck says, “Judge not, lest ye be judged.” When the hillbilly frowns again, redneck says, “You judge doubly, you sin twice.” Whereupon God smites the redneck dead.

Hillbilly forever silent and diligent digs the redneck’s grave fashions a humble tombstone from the empty bottle, and walks on.

That eve he witnesses the most beautiful sunset ever ‘fore made.

Source: https://www.springfieldspringfield.co.uk/view_episode_scripts.php?tv-show=ozark-2017&episode=s01e04

The parable is quite apt. The hillbilly in it is reserved, reverent. He shows respect for the redneck, unworthy of it as he was. In the show, Jacob Snell tried to be that honorable hillbilly but fell short. Maybe that’s just a more human portrayal in Snell; he’s jaded, leery. Clampett, in contrast, sees the best in all men. He gives the benefit of the doubt. When I hear that parable, I don’t envision Snell, who told it, but Clampett who embodied it.

I try not to seek those who I’d emulate from the imaginations of Hollywood, but if I were to pick a hero from those I see in the movies or on TV, I’d want to be Jed.

The Whole Armor of GOD

I have been blessed on occasion to have opportunity to present a lesson from GOD’s word to the local congregation of Christians with whom I’ve worshipped for the past couple years. I’ll be the first to admit, that my public speaking skills are woefully inadequate given the levity of the subject matter. I can’t imagine any topic that I could speak or write on where I am as concerned about presenting truth as I am when I am speaking on a topic from the Bible. My crutch every time I’ve gotten up to speak has been a visual presentation. It helps the congregation to keep track of what I’m speaking about, and it helps me to stay on topic. As time permits, I’d like to convert those slide presentations and the scripts I used to speak into posts here on my site. I hope you find them as beneficial for you as they have been for me.

(NB: I believe I am within my rights under fair use laws in the United States to use the images presented below as derivative works, except as where otherwise noted. If that is not the case, please let me know and I will remove them.)

One topic that I’ve spoken on, and surely countless myriads of others over the history of the church comes from Ephesians chapter 6; the whole (or full) armor of GOD. The particular Sunday that I presented this lesson was around Memorial Day, and I led off with this slide:

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To many, Memorial Day is the unofficial start to summer. It’s a weekend for grilling out and spending time with family. For others it has a different meaning.

What many people don’t think about is that the day Memorial Day is set aside to remember those who have died to protect the freedoms that we enjoy so much in this country. There are two verses that come to mind to remind me of this sacrifice. The first is John 15:13: Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. The next is Romans 5:7: For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die.

Throughout the history of the United States, men and women have done just that. They have died so that we might be free. As great a sacrifice as that was, none of them were perfect, and none of them died so that we could be redeemed from our sin. Jesus did, and he was the only one who could.

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We have examples of warfare throughout the Bible. We read of Abraham going into battle in Genesis. We know that David was a warrior king. In the New Testament we read of soldiers, like Cornelius, who were Christians. As Christians, we are all called to be soldiers of Christ, but we fight a spiritual war against our enemy Satan and his demonic followers.

Like soldiers here on earth, we have to be prepared for battle. In the letter to the Ephesians, Paul instructs us to put on the whole armor of God. Read with me in chapter 6 verses 12 and 13.

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We see here the general reason why we need armor. Let’s look at a few more good reasons.

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First, Peter tells us in his first letter that Satan is as a roaring lion, walking about to see who he can might devour. We get a glimpse of this in the book of Job when Satan was before God in the throne room of Heaven. God asked the devil where he had come from, and the devil responded that he’d be going to and fro on the earth and walking up and down it. Satan was a restless soul, looking to cause trouble. And we know from the accounts of the Gospels that there were others on the Earth with him, as we just read in Ephesians chapter 6. There are principalities, and powers and rulers of the darkness of this world. We cannot face such enemies alone. We need the strength of God that comes from the armor he has provided us. Let’s take a closer look at what that armor is.

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First, we must gird our loins in Truth. Ephesians 6:14 tells us: Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth… This is the first step in preparing to arm ourselves. So what does girding our loins mean? That’s not a phrase that makes a lot of sense to us today. Let’s take a look at what girding one’s loins refers to.

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Image copyright © Art of Manliness and Ted Slampyak, retrieved from http://www.artofmanliness.com/2014/10/02/how-to-gird-up-your-loins-an-illustrated-guide/

We have to remember that in the first century in the Middle East and most parts of the Roman Empire, men didn’t wear pants. They wore long tunics. You can imagine how this would have gotten in the way. This is the reason Roman Legionnaires wore short, kilt-like skirts. The illustration shows how someone would roll up their tunic so that it wouldn’t be in the way. With the tunic tied in place, the first step in preparing for battle was complete.

In spiritual warfare, the truth is like that tunic. It has to be always with us whether we are working or fighting. Where the tunic provided basic protection from the elements, the truth is our spiritual base layer. It has to be in place for the rest of the armor of God to go on top of. The truth, God’s word is our foundation.

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On top of that base layer of truth, we must layer righteousness. While the truth is essential, just knowing God’s word isn’t enough. Unbelievers can know the truth. We read in Mark 1:24 of an unclean spirit saying to Jesus: “Let us alone; what have we to do with thee, thou Jesus of Nazareth? art thou come to destroy us? I know thee who thou art, the Holy One of God”. We also read in James 2:19 “Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble”. If we read on to the next verse in that passage, James make the point of why righteousness must be layered on top of truth: “But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead?”. We can’t just know the truth, we have to have action. Righteousness comes through action. In Romans 4:3 we are told “For what saith the scripture? Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness”. This believe had action. In Genesis chapter 17, God commanded that Abraham and the men of his house and their descendants be circumcised. Abraham obeyed. In Genesis chapter 22, God commanded Abraham to offer Isaac as a sacrifice, and Abraham obeyed, but God saw his faith and provided a sacrifice in Isaac’s place. We know this is a foreshadowing of God sacrificing His own Son, which shows us God doesn’t ask us to do anything He wasn’t willing to do. Our God leads by example, as does His Son.

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For us to follow Christ’s lead, we have to have the right footwear to endure the long march. Think about a time in your life when you were walking in an ill-fitting, uncomfortable pair of shoes. Bad shoes make everything harder. The shoes we are told to wear are designed to make the march ahead possible.

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After we’ve gird out loins, put on our breastplate, and laced up our shoes getting ready to march, we have to take up our shield. Our spiritual shield is a shield of faith. With a strong faith, we are told by Paul that we can quench the fiery darts of the wicked. Our shield of faith gives us courage. We hold it in front of us to deflect the attack of our enemy. The Romans had a tactic called a shield wall where the legionnaires would overlap their shields to provide a near-inpenatrable defense. Like the Legionnaires, we are stronger as Christians when we are supporting each other.

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The last essential piece of armor is the helmet. The head is where reason and observation dictate action. A blow to the head impacts our ability to engage in action, and a hard enough blow kills us. We can take a lot of other damage to other areas of our bodies, but our heads are a weak point. Salvation is protection for the life to come. And when we put on salvation, we are called to action.

Finally, in this inventory of items for spiritual warfare, we must take up the sword of the Spirit. Paul tells us this is the Word of God. The Bible is our offensive weapon. If we choose any other text, we’ve chosen wrong. No other book is up to the task of fighting against Satan and his followers.

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In this spiritual war, we are guaranteed victory, but not necessarily in this life. In the spirit of Memorial Day, I’d like for us to consider several other soldiers of Christ who fought the good fight, but paid with their lives. As you can see from this list, they did not live out peaceful years and die of old age. Like the service members we honor this weekend in America who died in combat, our brethren listed here died in spiritual combat. They await their reward on the day of Judgement. We may not be called to be martyrs, but we might fight the good fight.

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As Christians, we are enlisted in the army of God. If you’re not a Christian, you are not a part of this army. In fact, you are fighting for the enemy. Fortunately, you can make this right. Cross the battle line and get on the winning side.