Honours and awards: Kentucky Colonel

An honorary military commission is considered by some to be the American equivalent of being knighted. The honorary title of Colonel is conferred by some states in the United States of America. The origins of the titular colonelcy can be traced back to colonial and antebellum times when men of the landed gentry were given the title for financing the local militia without actual expectations of command. This practice can actually be traced back to the English Renaissance when a colonelcy was purchased by a lord or prominent gentleman but the actual command would fall to a lieutenant colonel, who would deputize for the proprietor. It has come to be associated in popular culture with the image of the aristocratic Southern gentleman, not least because of one of the most famous Kentucky Colonels, Harland D. Sanders.

Today, Kentucky Colonel is the highest title of honour bestowed by the Commonwealth of Kentucky, USA. Commissions for Kentucky colonels are given by the governor and the secretary of state to individuals in recognition of noteworthy accomplishments, contributions, and outstanding service to community, state, or the nation. The Governor of Kentucky bestows the honor of a colonel’s commission, through the issuance of letters patent. The commission is a legal act of the Office of the Governor and lifetime appointment. At the time I received my commission in 2014, it was only possible for a person to be nominated for the honour by an existing Kentucky Colonel.