Archive for September, 2011

I’ve seen people in civilian clothes saluting, but I thought the rule was only the military saluted. Can a regular civilians salute the flag?
— Dwight Roland

Dear Mr. Roland:
      #1: Armed Services personnel in uniform salute the flag.
      #2: Regular citizens remove their hat, stand at attention, face the flag, and put their right hand over your heart.
That’s the norm in for what to do when the the US Flag is ‘in motion’ or when the US National Anthem is being played. But of course things aren’t always totally black and white.
       The Fine Print: Among the Armed Services there are practices confusing to those of us outside the military because it looks like some ‘civilians’ are saluting the flag.
* Veterans wearing civilian clothes are authorized to salute the flag (See press release). 
     * And other directives (e.g., Air Force directive (AFI 134 1201 Paragraph 2.17) — which I am told is the same in all branches of service) specify that active duty personnel when outdoors and wearing civilian clothes — may also salute the flag. It says:
“When the flag is displayed, all present except those in formation, should stand at attention facing the flag with their right hand over their heart. Members of the Armed Forces and veterans who are present, but not in uniform, may render the military salute.  All others should remove their hat with their right hand and hold the headdress at the left shoulder, the hand being over the heart.  Individuals in uniform should give the military salute at the first note of the National Anthem and maintain that position until the last note.  When the flag is not displayed, all present should face toward the music and act in the same manner they would if the flag were displayed.”
So the Armed Services have their own rules, but for us regular civilians … we should follow #2 above and we will be just fine.
– Robert Hickey www.formsofaddress.info


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How should a letter and envelope to a former First Lady be addressed?  The Honorable ______?
— W.T. Wynne

Dear Mr. Wynne:
A First Lady is not the honorable when her husband is in office — much less after.
She might be identified in an introduction as the First Lady of the United States from 1981 to 1989 but she is addressed as a private citizen.
So, for example, most formally, Nancy Reagan would have been addressed on an envelope as:
Mrs. Ronald Reagan
And the salutation would have been:
Dear Mrs. Reagan
Laura Bush did use Mrs. Laura Bush sometimes on invitations while she was in The White House, so if you know Mrs. (Her Name) was her preference, you could use it. But using the formal form — Mrs. (Husband’s Name) — is safe because using a formal form is never wrong.
Addressing Hillary Clinton is a bit different because she was elected to office — and is entitled to The Honorable Hillary Rodham Clinton — in her own right — and is thus an exception among First Ladies.
– Robert Hickey www.formsofaddress.info

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We are preparing place markers for a panel discussion.  Among the panel are three attorneys (one of whom is also a state representative) and the Chief Justice of the Wyoming Supreme Court.
The only two “civilians” are members of the press.
Would we simply list their names on the first line, followed by the title on the second line??
— Anne Leslie.

Dear Ms. Leslie:
I am assuming by place markers — you mean tent cards with their names on them so the audience can tell who is who?
If so, give the elected official and Chief Justice their formal forms:
The Honorable (Full Name of State Representative)
Chief Justice (Full name)
The Supreme Court of Wyoming
      Give the attorney the post-nominal used to identify practicing attorneys:
(Full Name), Esq.
And since the others are getting a courtesy title, honorific, or post nominal … give the reporters an honorific too:
  Mr. James Wilson
(Name of newspaper)

– Robert Hickey www.formsofaddress.info

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How do I address, in an email and in a phone conversation, an honorary Consul General of Denmark?
— Suzanne H.

Dear Suzanne H.:
All consuls and consul generals …. full time or honorary … are addressed asMr./Mrs./Ms./Dr. (name) …. whatever honorific to which they are normally entitled. Then after their name they are identified as the honorary Consul General of … 
An ambassador is the only diplomat that gets a special honorific or courtesy title.
– Robert Hickey www.formsofaddress.info

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I hold a few degrees and am about to receive an honorary doctorate. How do I indicate the doctorate with my name. I currently have BBA, B.Th, and an MRE. The doctorate will be in Theology.
— Marc Coffee

Dear Mr. Coffee:
Honorary doctorates are not noted in direct address, so will not be addressed asDr. (Name).  And the honorary degree’s post-nominal abbreviation is not listed (with your name) with the degrees you earned.
Honorary doctorates are listed as an honor or award on your resume, rather than part of education with academic degrees. In a complete introduction it would be stated that “Marc Coffey received an honorary Doctorate in Theology from …”
       It’s a great honor, but it is an honor, not a degree.
– Robert Hickey www.formsofaddress.info

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I am writing a message to former United States Secretary of Transportation Norman Mineta, who now works for Hill & Knowlton. How do I address him in my letter?
— Kathy J. Young

Dear Ms. Young:
There is only one Secretary of Transportation … so formers don’t continue to be addressed as such.
But they do continue to be The Honorable.
Most formally in conversational direct address, former secretaries of U.S. Federal departments go back to whatever they were before becoming a Secretary … so he’s no longer addressed as Mr. Secretary or Secretary Mineta.
So address him on the envelope and in the letter’s address block as:
The Honorable Norman Mineta
… and in the salutation use:
Dear Mr. Mineta:
– Robert Hickey www.formsofaddress.info

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How do I include a MBA certificate behind my name?  I cannot find out how to write the post-nominal abbreviation for an MBA Certificate.  CMBA?  MBAC?
— Ray Harris

Should one include any post nominal abbreviations for a BTEC National Diploma in Computer Software? I was wondering whether or not a level 3 qualification merits an abbreviation as well so I can show I am qualified in two different areas.  What should I include?  BTEC?  NDip ?
— Matthew Charisis

Dear Mr. Harris and Mr. Charisis:
Call the dean’s office of the granting institution and ask what is the typical post-nominal abbreviation for your certificate.  Ultimately no one will be very critical of exactly the post-nominal abbreviation you use … except others with the same or similar certification.
– Robert Hickey www.formsofaddress.info

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