Archive for July, 2010

My Sir – I have to email a retired US Army general (two star, I believe).  Since an email doesn’t require an address block, just the salutation, can I begin the email with General xxx:
The CSO asked that I contact you.   Do I spell out General?
Thanks for your assistance; we recognize the importance of precision and form as we engage military and former military personnel, and we’re referring frequently to your site (I know, no smiley faces to the general!)
— Beth in Finance & Insurance

Dear Beth:
Spelling it out fully (rather than using an abbreviation) is always correct … and in salutations all of the graded ranks of general … one star, two star, three star, and four star …. are all addressed as General.
So … yes ... the salutation would be … General (surname):
There are service-specific abbreviations for the various ranks for general … but for civilians spelling it out avoids the issue — especially since you are unsure if how many stars he has!
– Robert Hickey www.formsofaddress.info

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My husband and I are hosting the wedding of our daughter in the fall and have a question about the proper way to word the invitation. My husband is a retired Army COL and my daughter is going to marry a SSgt in the USAF. How should the invitation be worded?
— Susan Englehart, Douglasville, Georgia

Dear Mrs. Englehart:
For you and your husband, the absolutely most formal would be:
Colonel Phillip King Englehart and Mrs. Englehart
Also very typical is:
Colonel and Mrs. Phillip King Englehart
Technically the latter is less formal, but is used when one needs a shorter line.
His “retired” status and the branch of service are not included with the host/hostess line.
Your daughter’s name would be her complete preferred name, which normally is her full name:
Emily Todd Englehart
And for your future son-in-law gets his rank and preferred name, which normally would be his full name:
Staff Sergeant Thomas Pitts Henson
United States Air Force
Rank and USAF spelled out.
Beyond that there are a million options on wording. You should get a copy of Crane & Company’s The Wedding Blue Book. It goes into great detail about the options for the phrasing of every line …e.g., honor of your presence vs. pleasure of you company etc.
– Robert Hickey www.formsofaddress.info

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I am an ex-Army Specialist, Persian Gulf Veteran.  My job gets lots of letters for donations to help with fund raisers.  My boss would like to have me include my former rank in the letters that go out to fund raisers that are for military causes.  I don’t have a problem with it but I do want to use it properly.
I was not retired, just honorable discharged. This is what we came up with:
Yolanda Y. White (U.S. Army, E-4 Veteran)
He thought it might be nice for the ones asking for donations for military causes to get a response back from someone who served to show we do understand and our sympathies are with them.
Can you please tell me the correct way to address this?
Thank you!
— Yolanda White

Dear Yolanda:
Use of rank/rating is reserved for those who retire. Officers and enlisted personnel who resign their rank/rating are prohibited from using them as a part of their name after their service.
I have blog posts that relate to your situation. This one is about the use of rank by non-retired military personnel.
However you can absolutly describe yourself as a United States Army Veteran in the text of the letter … but just not as a part of your name as would someone who actually served a career and then retired.
– Robert Hickey www.formsofaddress.info

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lease tell me what the joint salutation would be for married U.S. ambassadors with different last names.   Am I correct in that the mail names would be …  
The Honorable Jack G. Small
and The Honorable Ann K. Jones

Thanks so much!
— Debbie

Dear Debbie:
Yes .. .that is perfect. Each gets their full name spelled out on their own line.
Next question is whose name is listed first? You listed Jack Small. Officially the one who became an ambassador earlier has higher precedence … and would be listed first … unless you are writing to one of them at their post … and an ambassador at his or her post has the higher precedence.
– Robert Hickey www.formsofaddress.info

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Robert, good day. I know mayors, city council members, county commissioners, judges,etc., are addressed as The Honorable. My question: Does this apply to locally elected school board members as well? Consistency would suggest the answer is “yes,” but I’ve never seen one so addressed. Thank you.
— Jim, Salem, Oregon

Dear Jim:
Technically members of school boards are entitled to be addressed as The Honorable if they are elected in an general election.
I grew up in Arlington, Virginia … and there, local elected officials are not addressed as “The Honorable” by local tradition.
But .. I have discovered now that I live in New York City … that here, members of school boards are addressed as “The Honorable”.
So I agree with you … WITH the caveat that one needs to be alert for local traditions!
– Robert Hickey www.formsofaddress.info

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When listing a couple using first names and last name whose name comes first?  Is it Tom and Anne Smyth or Anne and Tom Smyth?
— Liz

Dear Liz:
Conflicting opinions on name order in the books I have seen.
Ladies first?
Anne and Tom Smyth
Preserve the “Mr. & Mrs.” order?
Tom and Ann Smyth
More etiquette books (if that is any measure) show ladies first:
Anne and Tom Smyth
I’ve most often seen this defended as keeping the man’s name together as unit.
– Robert Hickey www.formsofaddress.info

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How should President Obama be referred to by the media? I hear them refer to him as Mr. Obama and this just doesn’t sound very respectful of him or the office (in my opinion). Mahalo for your time.
— Ms. Brazile in Honolulu

Dear MBIH:
Great question!
In the media the journalists are referring to The President in the third person in a story … so they will refer to him in various ways so who they are talking about is clear to the listener. You’ll hear:
The President
President Obama
Mr. Obama

These are not forms of address … for which there are rules.  In direct address a president is addressed as
Mr. President
His given name or surname is not used in his presence.
Listen to a White House news conference, and all the reporters address him as Mr. President.
White House staff refer to him as The President … which makes sense since he is the onlyPresident to them!   But on the evening news they may refer to several presidents … the president of the United States … the president of British Petroleum … the president of a national association.
Sometimes you hear someone directly address the President of the United States as President Obama … but that person is incorrect …. doesn’t know the tradition … and has probably just been listening to the evening news and thinks that is correct.
Whenever I hear that I write a note to the reporter. Not sure it does any good, but I feel better.
– Robert Hickey www.formsofaddress.info

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