Archive for May 27th, 2009

     My question has to do with addressing envelopes.  Our Pastor, Alyson Smith, of the Presbyterian Denomination, is married to a retired Lieutenant Commander, USN,Richard.  He is to be awarded his PhD soon.  Regardless of the degree, I have not been able to find out how one is to address an invitation, card, or letter to the two of them, together. 
         — Bobbi Sue Minton

Dear Ms. Minton:
    A couple of issues here:

     It’s not typical for retired Lieutenant Commanders to continue to be addressed by their rank. Captains and above typically continue use of the military title in retirement … but that said, if he prefers to be addressed as a “Lieutenant Commander Paul Smith” in writing … and “Commander Smith” in conversation … [full rank and basic rank]  I’d follow his preference.     
    As a retired military officer his name is written most formally on official correspondence:
        Lieutenant Commander Richard Smith, USN, Retired
    As socially you would write to him as:
        Lieutenant Commander Richard Smith
    As a member of the clergy, her name is written:
        The Reverend Alyson Smith, (followed by “DD” or whatever post-nominal initials she uses)

    Regarding Richard getting his PhD. There is an American tradition that we only give a person one title at time. So he’s either going to be Dr. Smith or Commander Smith. He would never be Commander Dr. Smith. 
    I say “American tradition” because the “British tradition” is to give a personEVERYTHING they would ever get … so you see names like The Right Honourable Reverend Lieutenant Colonel Dr. Lord William Ramsey, MP, VC, PhD ….  But in the US we address a person with the one “honorific” or “courtesy title” that’s appropriate to the situation …. who they are to us at the moment. 

    Usually holders of PhD’s don’t use Dr. (name) unless they work in academia or research. E.g., the holder of a doctorate in French who teaches would use Dr. (name) …. The holder of a PhD in finance who works at a bank wouldn’t.  Another example …. lawyers have a JD (Doctor of Jurisprudence) but none of them use Dr. (name). 
    An academic degree is never used with a military rank.

   Whose name is listed first?

    An active duty or retired military person has higher precedence than a civilian so is listed first. So in most circumstances the joint form would be:
        Lieutenant Commander Richard Smith
            and The Reverend Alyson Smith

    BUT if she is the invited guest … and he is invited as her escort, then as the guest her name would appear first:
        The Reverend Alyson Smith
            and Lieutenant Commander Richard Smith

    If he’s using Dr., then both are civilians, and she as clergy would be listed first:
        The Reverend Alyson Smith
            and Dr. Richard Smith

    I have spelled out “Lieutenant Commander” every time above, to avoid the whole issue of how to abbreviate his rank. I cover that in my book (service-specific abbreviations) if you need that information.
            — Robert Hickey     www.formsofaddress.info 

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     On a wedding invitation, which is correct:  “two thousand nine” OR” two thousand and nine” ?  Thank you!  I prefer “two thousand nine”, but almost all of the wedding samples I’ve looked at use “two thousand and nine”.
         — Paula Koloski

Dear Ms. Koloski:
    Traditional wording would be:
            Two thousand and nine
    The first word in is capitalized.
    If you don’t want to include the year … that’s completely acceptable. Most invitations are sent out 4-6 weeks in advance, so it’s not confusing not to specify the year. For party invitations it fairly routine to leave off the year. 
    But since wedding invitations are kept as “keepsakes” people like to include the year for future reference.
            — Robert Hickey     www.formsofaddress.info 

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     Regarding my pastor, who is also a military chaplain:
     I must write a sentence in our summer worship schedule for the church newsletter regarding the pastor’s “Godspeed Celebration” we are holding before his deployment to Afghanistan. Which of these would be considered correct? Are any of them simply not correct at all?
    The Rev. (full name), chaplain of the …, Indiana Army National Guard.
    The Rev. Lieut. Col. (full name), chaplain of the ….
    Lieut. Col. (full name), chaplain of the …. and pastor of ….

Is there another form that would be more preferred?

                — Lynn Harriman, Indianapolis

Dear Ms. Harriman,
    I think you are saying he is the pastor of your church … AND he is also a chaplain?
    There is a tradition in American forms of address that we only give a person one title at time.
    ** As a chaplain he’d use the form I have on Chaplain Armed Services 
    ** As you pastor he’d use the form I have on Pastor 
    I say “American” because the British tradition is to give a person EVERYTHING they would ever get … so you see names like The Right Honourable Reverend Lieutenant Colonel Lord William Ramsey, MP, VC .…  But in the US we address a person with the one “honorific” or “courtesy title” that’s appropriate to the situation …. who they are to us at the moment.
    So I your first option is the most formally correct for you at his church:
           The Reverend (full name), (degrees held)
If it’s a sentence you can include more information ..
            The Reverend (full name) is a Chaplain of the Indiana Army National Guard holding the rank of Lieutenant Colonel. 
    And when he’s on active duty with the National Guard they will use his chaplain form of address and note is also the pastor of your church.
            — Robert Hickey     www.formsofaddress.info 

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     Please settle a dispute. When sending a letter to a Major General, I know that the address at the top of the page should read Major General Robert McCaw. But in the greeting, which is correct: Dear Major General McCaw or Dear General McCaw?
         — Kathleen Kruckle

Dear Ms. Kruckle:
    The full rank is use to be specific on the envelope the letter’s address block …. General, Lieutenant General, Major General, or Brigadier General
        Major General Robert McCaw, USA/USMC/USAF
    Use his branch of service on the envelope and in the address block: USA or USMC or USAF.
    The basic rank General is used in conversation … and since what you would call the person in conversation … is what you use in the letter’s salutation … you open the letter with the greeting:
        Dear General McCaw:
    “Admirals” “Colonels” “Commanders” and “Lieutenants” have the same issue … and all follow that same pattern.

          — Robert Hickey

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