Colonel Sanders was not really a colonel? – Not officers of the U.S. military, some “colonels” are, in reality, recipients of “honorary colonel ranks” from a state governor. In the 1800s, these honorary colonels were military appointments and they still are nominally appointed to a governor's staff. They have no military rights or duties. Two such honorary colonels were Colonel Tom Parker, Elvis Presley's manager, who received the honor from a Louisiana governor and Colonel Harland Sanders of KFC fame, a Kentucky colonel.
If there is any place where etiquette is observed, it is in the United States army. It runs from the highest to the lowest.
When Colonel Graham was in charge of the Presidio post some years ago, he was seated in his office reading official documents when a rather young man who held the rank of major entered the room. He was attired in a civilian suit and was well known to the colonel, but conditions changed personal relations for the time being. After saluting the major smilingly asked: “Colonel, will you kindly give an order to permit me to go to the city for three hours?” The colonel looked up from his papers and with that firm courtesy which characterized him when on official duty, eyed the speaker for a moment, and quietly said, “My dear sir. I do not know why you call on me to ask permission to go to the city, or anywhere else,” and then turned to his papers.
The major, who did not require that a brick house should fall upon him in order to take a hint, retired and in a short time returned, attired in the fatigue uniform of his station and wearing on his shoulder the gold oak leaf of his rank. In the most precise military manner he repeated his request for permission to go to the city. The colonel, this time in the most pleasant manner said, “Why, certainly, major, you have my permission to absent yourself from the post for tke time you desire.” In civilian dress, the major was not recognized; in the uniform of his rank, he was. It was a lesson in military etiquette which he, no doubt, would never forgot. – San Francisco Call, 1904
Etiquette Enthusiast, Maura J. Graber, is the Site Editor for the Etiquipedia© Etiquette Encyclopedia