Honours and awards: Nebraska Admiral

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.

Some states bestow other military commissions. The highest honour of the State of Nebraska is that of Nebraska Admiral (or in full, Admiral of the Great Navy of the State of Nebraska), bestowed personally by the Governor of Nebraska. The title is deliberately tongue-in-cheek; Nebraska is landlocked, and the diploma makes humorous reference to the command of tadpoles and goldfish. The Great Navy of the State of Nebraska was created in 1931 when the Acting Governor appointed twenty or so prominent Nebraskans as Nebraska Admirals. Today, recipients are considered to qualify on the basis that they have “contributed in some way to the state, promote the Good Life in Nebraska, and warrant recognition as determined by the Governor”.