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Archive for June, 2011

What is the proper greeting when meeting the Prince of Belgium? Is protocol the same as meeting the British Royals?
— Marilee Tatum

Dear Ms. Tatum:
When in Belgium the form of address for the princes of the royal family  … in both French and Dutch ….  is Monseigneur.
       But, in English it is acceptable to use the forms of address used when addressing similarly ranked British royalty … so all can be addressed as Your Royal Highness.

         – Robert Hickey www.formsofaddress.info

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Is it improper for someone to put a little flag (appropriately displayed) on a civilian’s grave? … like the flags that are put on the military graves on Memorial Day?  We have a gentleman in our town that is questioning another citizen placing a flag on her husband’s grave.
— Anita Clarkson

Dear Ms. Clarkson:
The American flag is frequently seen the graves of veterans, so placed to honor their service.  But, anyone can put a small American flag on a grave if it is done correctly.
         – Robert Hickey www.formsofaddress.info

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My mother taught me that there is a rule that when a man is deceased, one should not refer to him as “Mr.”  I never asked her about whether a deceased woman should not be referred to as “Mrs.,” but my question refers to that as well. Do you know of such a rule?
— Sue Holton

Dear Ms. Holton:
I have not heard of this as a rule, and I had not thought about it …. but it is true.
“Mr.” “Miss”  “Mrs.”  “Ms.” are honorifics and are used by others in direct address to a person. The honorifics are attached to the name as a courtesy to the person … and to define them in some way … as a man, woman …. or with women to define their marital status.  They are used in conversation, on an envelope, on letter’s address block or salutation, or on a place card.
But, if a person is deceased, you aren’t addressing them in any of those circumstances.
The same is true with courtesy titles …. The Honorable or His/Her Excellency … are not used with deceased elected officials names or with deceased diplomats.
Thanks for this question!
         – Robert Hickey www.formsofaddress.info

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Is it proper (or required) to play the National Anthem at an event where Mrs. Obama is speaking? Is it a good idea to?
Does it make the event become more formal by adding the National Anthem to the program?
        — Daryl Fairlington

Dear Mr. Fairlington:
It would depend on the event …. not on the presence of the First Lady.
Mrs. Obama could attend a local school’s assembly and no anthem would be played.
Or she could attend a civic event and the anthem would be played. But it’s not due to the presence of the First Lady.
I’d agree that including the playing of the National Anthem does create a more formal event.
         – Robert Hickey www.formsofaddress.info

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What does one do with their gum if they have already sat down to eat?
Plate?
Napkin? 
        — D.P. in Pittsburgh

Dear D.P.:
There is no correct place for disposing of trash or gum on the dining table.
The person should excuse him or herself from the table and go get rid of it in a trash can.
        – Robert Hickey www.formsofaddress.info

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How do I address an envelope to a United States Navy Captain and a Dentist who are married?
 Captain Joshua & Dr. Brooke Jones?
        — D. Bainbridge

Dear Mr. D. Bainbridge:
Most formally people with titles and ranks get their names as a unit … not combined with another person’s name. Since he is in uniform … military uniformed personnel have precedence over civilians … so the USN Captain is listed first.
So the form would be:
Captain Joshua Jones
                and Dr. Brooke Jones
                (Address)
         – Robert Hickey www.formsofaddress.info

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I currently have a two certifications that I include on my e-mail signature block. I will be adding a number of additional certifications over the next 6-12 months, and eventually a Master’s degree in Homeland Security as well. Do I use them all in professional email correspondence if they are relevant to my profession on the whole, or should I tailor them on an email-to-email basis?
        — Justin Dwight, CHLS, PCP

Dear Mr. Dwight:
A signature block is not your resume where you would list everything …. it’s just you signing a letter.
I’d say including three starts to get a bit much … four might be over the top.
But the real gauge will be what is the typical use … the practice of your colleagues and peers.
They are the ones who will have an opinion on whether you have too much alphabet soup after your name — if you are being appropriate or pretentious.
         – Robert Hickey www.formsofaddress.info

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I have had the pleasure of meeting a very nice person who was kind to my 6 year old son. My son is in an afterschool leadership group in New York City called The Knickerbocker Greys.  This gentleman forwarded to me photos of my son, taken at a recent event that are really cute. I would like to send him a thank-you note.
His business card has his name written :
             COL Charles C. Lucas Jr. MD, ABFFP, FAAFP
The lower left of the card:
Commandant
Veteran Corps of Artillery
State of New York

The lower right:
President
Military Society of the War of 1812

My question is how should the envelope and honorific be written?
Also, if you are ever in NYC and would like to visit the Armory and the Greys, please let me know. It would be so nice to meet you and for the Greys to have you speak with them as well!
        — Cathy R.

Dear Cathy R:
Since it ‘s a social note address it to:
COL Charles C. Lucas
(Address)
and as a salutation use:
Dear Colonel Lucas,
I don’t actually cover such precisely this use of rank in my book: he’s a member of an honorary militia. 
His rank is honorary … important in its own context …. but he’s not an U.S. Armed Services Colonel in the same way a United States Army Colonel on active duty is a Colonel.
Some of the members of the Veteran Corp of Artillery (VCA) may simultaneously be on active duty … but officially in the view of the Department of Defense, the VCA is a social organization.
So in official events at the Pentagon he is:
Mr. Charles C. Lucas
At event’s of this admirable charitable organization (and to you in this context) he is:
COL Charles C. Lucas
         – Robert Hickey www.formsofaddress.info

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How is a former state senator addressed in Pennsylvania?
        — Kevin Lambert

Dear Mr. Lambert:
A three-part answer.
       1) All states are the same.
       2) Former state senators may continue to be socially addressed as Senator (Name) at their preference.
This follows the rule that if you held an office which had a special honorific that many office holders held at the same time (there were many senators when he was a senator)you may continue to be socially addressed in the style of the office, after leaving office. Other offices following this rule include: ambassador, justice, judge, general and all the military ranks.
       3) But to address him/her as Senator (Name) as an office holder of a subsequent position/job/office would be improper … because it might seem he or she still held some status of their former office … that his or her actions are in some way supported by the state government.
For example, a former senator would not be addressed as Senator (Name) if he was a practicing attorney-at-law …. or if he or she was a candidate for mayor of the city.
The fact that he or she was a state senator would be include in a bio, but he or she would be officially addressed as Mr./Ms. (Name). 

         – Robert Hickey www.formsofaddress.info

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I work at a regional office for an agency of the U.S. Department of Labor.  In official correspondence to the state labor departments, our salutations are “Dear Commissioner [Name],” “Dear Director [Name],” or “Dear Secretary [Name]” according to the title of the position, but I am uncertain how to address correspondence to a retired Marine Corps lieutenant general whose appointment as the labor commissioner in Maine was recently confirmed.  My first instinct was to omit any reference to his military rank as it has no bearing on his current position, but news articles regarding his appointment refer to him throughout as “Lt. General [sic] Sinclair” even though he was subsequently elected to the Maine House of Representatives and employed at IBM.
        — Candy de Lovely

Dear Ms. de Lovely:
The Department of Defense would write to him officially, e.g., with regard to is retirement benefits as:
     LTG Robert J. Wineglass, USMC, Retired
And he would use that form on in social situations, e.g., on his daughter’s wedding invitation.
DoD’s perspective on using his rank+retired in a subsequent job would be … to paraphrase the current Chief of Protocol for the Joint Chiefs of Staff at the Pentagon:  If retirees are in a new job, then they should be addressed in a way that supports their new job and not using military rank+retired – it is a misrepresentation. They are in a new job – not the military. When retired officers attend Pentagon events as the holder of a post-retirement job — and are not invited as a retired officer — they are not addressed by rank+retired on invitations or tent cards etc., but as Mr/Ms (name) and their new company affiliation.
Address him in regard to matters under the purview of his current position in the manner he holds that office — as a private citizen:
           Mr. Robert J. Sinclair
Whereas if you are addressing him as a former member of the the Maine House of Representatives, use:
   – Robert Hickey www.formsofaddress.info

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