Wednesday, September 15, 2010

The Colonel

Time Magazine has a story about Col. Sanders, of Kentucky Fried Chicken fame. It's kind of an appreciation, prompted by the author's having read recently that 61% of Americans don't know who Col. Sanders it, which made him sad. I share in his sadness.

This is probably because of my time in Louisville, where we lived just down the street from The Colonel's grave. When we lived in Kentuicky, visiting The Colonel's Grave was a must-see stop on our city tour for family and friends.

Of course, it could also be that I'm sad because, like Sanders, I too am a Kentucky Colonel, an honorary title bestowed upon those who have done much to serve the people of Kentucky. I had said for a long time that I wanted to be a Colonel, so for my birthday, Isabel asked a friend to nominate me (one must be nominated by another Colonel). The friend agreed to do it, and the two of them were able to write up a very persuasive statement about how my teaching had been a service to the people of the state. The friend brought it to a neighbor, who worked in the Kentucky Governor's office, and asked the neighbor to look over the statement to see if it would be acceptable. The neighbor laughed and said, "Whatever. I'll just put it in the pile with the other certificates for him to sign." My signed certificate was framed and wrapped for my birthday, and my annual dues statement arrived a week later.

My Louisville collegaues were good enough to change the name tag on my mailbox to "Colonel McEachern." Students used to ask if I was in the military, which seemed kind of unlikely to them. Unfortunately, nobody calls me Colonel anymore.

Well, almost nobody.

When we moved to Connecticut, a colleague, who had served in the army in his native country, saw the certificate on the wall in my office, and excitedly started to share war stories with me. I mean REAL war stories -- about the civil war in his country. I had to stop him and make it clear that my title was honorary. But almost 15 years later, he still salutes me in the hall and calls me Colonel, and reminds me that I outrank him and that he will do "whatever my Colonel tells me to do."

Now that's respect.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Great story Uncle Colonel Bob. I love you!