Does Character Matter?

Another article older article from Truth Magazine:

Does Character Matter?:
By Harry Osborne

Does character matter anymore? Do you care whether one tells the truth, exemplifies fidelity, avoids intoxication or exhibits other factors consistent with good character? Some polls in recent weeks have suggested that many are willing to excuse a President with significant character flaws because they discount the importance of character to leadership, especially when they think he brings them economic advantages. It seems to me that the same tendency may be seen throughout our society.

One need not think very hard to come up with several cases of esteemed athletes widely used in advertising and other ways who have been caught in various unlawful or unethical actions. The defense of their continued use is that the athletes are not intended to be role models in character, even though they are taken as such by many young people. When disciplinary action is taken against offenders, it rarely amounts to more than a slap on the wrist.
This disregard of character is sometimes taught at an early age. Have you seen coaches of young children seek to win even if it meant cheating? It is a sad fact that youth sports are being marred by adults who bring foul language and alcohol usage into the presence of children. Is that a proper influence regarding character to be placed before our children or does such matter to us?

The same questions could be asked about the effect of teachers, governmental officials and others who have influence in our society. If their character is flawed, can they be trusted to lead in their given areas? The Bible declares that character issues should be carefully viewed and that one without good character should not be trusted for leadership. For example, notice these statements of Scripture about the importance of good character in leaders.

Regarding  the  need  for  righteousness  —  “It  is abomination for kings to commit wickedness, for a throne is established by righteousness. Righteous lips are the delight of kings, and they love him who speaks what is right” (Prov. 16:12-13).

Regarding the need to speak the truth — “Excellent speech is not becoming to a fool, much less lying lips to a prince” (Prov. 17:7). “The truthful lip shall be established forever, but a lying tongue is but for a moment” (Prov.
12:19).

Regarding the need to shun promiscuity — “Do not give your strength to women, nor your ways to that which destroys kings” (Prov. 31:3). “Whoever commits adultery with a woman lacks understanding; he who does so destroys his own soul. Wounds and dishonor he will get, and his reproach will not be wiped away” (Prov. 6:32-33).

Regarding the need to avoid intoxicants — “It is not for kings to drink wine, nor for princes to seek intoxicating drink; lest they drink and forget the law, and pervert the justice of all the afflicted” (Prov. 31:4-5).

If the need for character was seen by those guided by God’s inspiration, why is our society increasingly showing disregard for the importance of character? If a man’s words cannot be trusted, how can his leadership? If a man’s words are filled with fifth, why should we expect anything different with his actions? If he is given to drugs and alcohol, how can we be confident in his sobriety at times when wise judgment is needed?

Character does matter! In fact, one’s character is the best gauge we have by which to judge one’s fitness for leadership. If we disregard flaws in one’s character and put him or her in a place of leadership over our children or our country, we are inviting disaster upon ourselves. God has always blessed righteousness and punished evil. Remember  Sodom and Gomorrah?

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A victory for restoring/keeping military tradition

An interesting follow-up post on the Canadian move last year to restore the “Royal” designations to its military branches:

Turning the military clock back to its proper time: Now that a full year has passed since the federal government boldly returned the main branches of the armed forces to their pre-1968 designations – the Royal Canadian Navy, the Canadian Army and the Royal Canadian Air Force – a decision that delighted and perplexed many, and appalled some as a retrograde step, an annum of perspective would perhaps be a timely and welcome thing.
Certainly the unexpected announcement attracted a considerable amount of media attention and debate, and even ignited a few spasms during a traditionally slow news month. Although the restoration was supported by a solid majority of Canadians across all spectra, including a majority of federalist Quebeckers, the shrieks and howls emanating from some quarters lambasting the move, did cause a disproportionate stir.

For example, opposition defence critic Jack Harris was adamant that the royal name change should be avoided because it would be divisive to the country, a fear that fortunately never materialized. Military historian Jack Granatstein, for his part, disparaged the restoration as “abject colonialism”, which seemed an oddly irrelevant apprehension to hold in contemporary and fully independent Canada. There were a few others, but it was the exquisite irony of former defence minister Paul Hellyer’s criticism that the reinstatement would prove a “monumental blunder of historic proportions”, and one that will have “inevitably costly consequences”, that requires a little further elaboration to properly dispel.
Mr. Hellyer – surely the most transformative defence minister in Canadian history – was understandably upset that his unification legacy had been – at least symbolically – overturned. After all, it was his single-minded audacity in the 1960s that pushed through the most revolutionary change in the armed forces of any developed country in the last century, effectively abolishing the navy, army and air force and forming a new single service, the unified Canadian Armed Forces.
Economically the merger was a massive reorganization exercise intended to amalgamate the functions of the military, reduce triplication and create integrated efficiencies – an ostensibly worthy goal in and of itself. What occurred in 1968, however, went far beyond an economic initiative. It was also a regrettable assault on the very identities of the navy, army and air force; their ranks, uniforms, history, traditions, titles. For a country that had always moved cautiously in reforming its institutions, and that had in the previous fifty years fought two world wars and Korea, the shock of this caused enormous pain to over a million Canadian veterans as well as to most of all ranks who were serving at the time. Unification struck at the very heart of esprit-de-corps.
The self-defeating effort to disenfranchise our sailors, soldiers and air personnel from their traditional loyalties and hard won distinctions – especially the navy, the most embattled and deeply wounded of the three – was politically motivated by a determined desire to “cleanse the forces of their Britishness”, what C.P. Champion, author of The Strange Demise of British Canada, calls “the neo-nationalist attack on [Canada’s] military tradition”. Given the ubiquity of that heritage, Mr. Hellyer was of the mind that the most efficient way to “Canadianize” the services was to scuttle them in one dramatic blow. The proud RCN and RCAF had to go; our sailors and airmen were chastened into the unification straightjacket, and ludicrously forced to don rifle green outfits and adopt army ranks. If the amorphous, brave new Canadian Armed Forces was an impossible vehicle to rally morale, the troops would have to make do with bland bureaucratic distinctions like “Maritime Command” and “Air Command” or even “Land Force Command”. The whole reinvented apparatus was, at root, an uninspiring concoction, and therein laid its eventual fate.
Some vital traditions in fact were restored before they were even abandoned. In time, nearly all would be organically returned as the unification conformists gradually ceded to reality under successive governments. With the long overdue restoration of Canada’s battle-tried titles, our armed forces can proudly reclaim their inheritance. The reestablishment of these historic identities, as defence minister Peter MacKay announced one year ago today, “is an important way of reconnecting today’s men and women in uniform with the proud history and traditions they carry with them”, which will “once again serve as a timeless link between our veterans and serving soldiers, sailors and air personnel.”
The Hon. Paul Hellyer can rest easy in the knowledge that the perfectly sensible parts of his legacy remain firmly intact, and that thanks to his historic efforts the rebranded Canadian Forces continue to be one of the most functionally integrated militaries in the world today. But it was a bridge too far, and the country could have done without the temporary defacement of its naval and military heritage. The natural process of “Canadianization” was, after all, inevitable.
Indeed, the recovery of that heritage is a happy occasion, and one that Canadians rightly support and respect. The names and deeds of the RCN, RCAF and the regiments and corps of the Canadian Army are deepened in loyal and devoted service and distinctly forged in battle. They deserve all the honours that have been bestowed upon them. Glottal stops, notwithstanding.

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.

Wisdom of Dr. George W. Crane

I saw an old magazine article from Truth Magazine recently with the following poem:

Think, please, before you rave,
And think of me as being naive.
Since what I write is “written”,
By it you’ll not be smitten.
But trouble starts from those who go,
To teaching things that are not so.
Any scripture misapplied,
Is as wrong as truth denied.

-Doctor Crane

I wanted to find out who the gentleman who wrote such succinct words was. The article mentions that Dr. Crane was “of newspaper fame”. This left me with two great conundrums: 1). I don’t read newspapers, per se, and 2). The article was from 1968. A quick search led me to several articles about the famed Doctor, the first listed being his obituary in the New York Times.

Dr. George W. Crane must have been a great man, having among other things, written speeches for Silent Cal. With the death a news papers several years ago (apparently most of them don’t realize it yet…), columns like his might likely be lost to the archives, never to be resurrected. In my searches, I have not found any of his writings online, save for a psychology text book printed in 1933, and this article from one of Dr. Crane’s Worry Clinic columns (A Rate-Your-Wife_Scale) . That is unfortunate. He wrote from a golden time in American history, and we could still use a little of Dr. Crane’s Horse Sense.

Meanwhile the false "order" …

While I am on the topic of false honors and such, below is a post from the Order of St. Lazarus of Jerusalem, a Catholic chivalric order with regards to a group in Brazil that they claim to be falsely representing themselves. Translation into English courtesy of Google Translate.

Meanwhile the false “order” …:
Coat of Arms of Count Andre Galli della Loggia
Knight Commander

Like all the faithful readers of this blog already know Cavalry, over time more and more groups (often composed of whimsical, other times a simple silly) attempt to impersonate members of the Order of St. Lazarus of Jerusalem.
These groups circus, which you see they are encouraging the arena, where should never have left, insist on using our black robes, and our eight-pointed crosses, although they completely ignore our symbols mean. I say this because as you know, in Brazil one of those “troupes” of clowns settled there already a good month.
Has this “troupe” in his career as a circus presentations, three false “endowments”, one of them even held in a city council of a small town in the interior of Sao Paulo. In the latter year, however, the “boss” of this group (which as everyone knows is a cook in France and in spare time comes to Brazil to these theatrical performances) tried to do that “thing” had more credibility, and on 03 March this year, he rented a simple church in the City of St. Paul, that his show was a little more convincing.
Appearance of the false ceremony held by circus troupe of actors.
(The image was edited to prevent recognition of the elements)
After performing the act, had the ability to publish to a blog that put at their service the following sentence:
“The Supreme Grand Priory know that your labor in Brazil caused the wrath of” false competition “that have nothing to do with our Order. The concern of the genuine success of our projects should encourage further work of the Grand Priory Hospitaller Brazil, especially since all members of the Grand Priory of Brazil should be aware that they have the support and full protection of the largest and duly recognized organization Lazarita world. “
Frankly, we sincerely hope that the participants of this “troupe” look just a good psychiatric medical service because they do not just use a black cloak and a green Maltese cross, to be a true Lazarist before you must be a true part of the Military Order and Hospitaller Order of Saint Lazarus of Jerusalem, always obedient to her only Prince and Grand Master, for the way they act, the lords will always have the same credibility as the lovable clowns who enliven the circus for the children.
Upon completion of the staging of “investiture” less than half a dozen of mebros Troupe decided to go for a simple lunch
(The image was edited to prevent recognition of the elements)

An excellent post from The Gentlemen’s Standard

One of my favorite blogs to read is The Gentlemen’s Standard. and posts like the one below exemplify why:

The Standard #59: An honorable gentleman fully comprehends the concept of exhibiting class, sympathy, and compassion. During episodes of great tragedy or human misery, the humane gentleman believes in charity and generosity. It is second nature. The considerate gentleman does not greedily seize upon the opportunity to criticize, politicize, or monetize unfortunate realities. His moral fiber is fortified with virtue and humility. He understands that the weight of life may prove too great for some individuals to bear. Alas, he has been blessed with robust shoulders that can bear life’s burdens, and that fact is not lost on him. He is blessed to be a blessing to those in need. Because, benevolence is a character trait that is not foreign to him, nor is it casually minimized. It is far too easy, agonizingly too simple to take what life has pleasantly afforded us for granted. Sometimes, perspective becomes distorted when the lens has become clouded with prosperity. Allow your wisdom to correct your focus. Your current situation could be dramatically different-and not in a good way. Be thankful. And always remember to assist others who may be in need. It could be you that requires the empathetic generosity of a stranger one day.

2012 Who’s Who Among Students in American Universities and Colleges

I got a letter in the mail yesterday from Who’s Who Among Students in American Universities & Colleges notifying me that I had been selected for their 2012 listing. I knew that I had been nominated by my school, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University,  last year, but I hadn’t thought anything else of it. I must say that I am pretty proud of this.

I have to thank my wife for her support of my ongoing education for near the entire length of my marriage. There have been countless nights when she’s been stuck by herself with screaming kids while I was at class. I don’t know if I could do the same for her and retain my sanity.

Now if I could just get my capstone project done so that I could be awarded my Master’s Degree…