Kentucky Colonels International: Restoring Traditions and Customs

Defending the Ideals of the Kentucky Colonel

Becoming a Kentucky Colonel and Ambassador of Goodwill

There is really nothing much more important to me today than being a Kentucky colonel and working as a recognized goodwill ambassador with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals Agenda.

Becoming a Kentucky colonel is an esteemed honor, one that I hold in the highest regard. While some people like to joke with me about it, when they learn I am a Kentucky colonel, I also know they are kidding around and their jokes are in good jest and humor, especially when among close friends. It is not a tongue-in-cheek award like the Admiral of Nebraska, or something that should be taken lightly by those who are commissioned. Becoming a Kentucky colonel is a great honor in-deed and legal status denoted with letters patent.

I was conferred the lifetime commission in 1996 for bringing attention to the Commonwealth of Kentucky by Governor Paul Patton. The governor recognized me for a program that I had developed for Arbor Day and distributing millions of tree seedlings across the United States for urban reforestation to homeowners and organizations, a program I began in 1994 in Lexington, Kentucky following an ice storm that devastated the area. It came as a great surprise to me at the time and was presented to me by a good friend, the Honorable Col. Judge Ray Corns.

Being a Kentucky colonel has been more important to me than even my university degree, while I may have learned much of what I know from studying philosophy, it is not something I have ever bragged about much or considered noteworthy in my work as an international goodwill ambassador, although I am sure it has been a bonus to my critical thinking process. One thing I do know is that it is "indeed" a great privilege to hold the honorable title of the Kentucky Colonel.

Commonwealth of Kentucky Coat of Arms (1876)

Starting Kentucky Colonels International (1998)

I was so impressed with becoming a Kentucky colonel that while operating the tree program, I decided to start an unincorporated association (using the skills that I learned as a web developer with the tree program, which by then was online) for others that were recognized as Kentucky colonels by the state's governor. In the process of developing the organization I discovered that the Honorable Order of Kentucky Colonels, to which, I implicitly belonged, was actually a private charitable organization in itself. However, when I became a Kentucky colonel in 1996, I was led to believe that it was somehow a part of the state, since the state sent me the initial information regarding them.

The next thing I knew after becoming a colonel, I began receiving frequent solicitations in the mail for donations from the organization several times a year; to which I donated on several occasions.

In setting up the membership organization having some professional experience in the law, research ability, and an intrepid nature I went to the state capitol to research more and discovered that the Honorable Order had Amended and Restated Articles of Incorporation on file there, upon reading them I discovered the organization has no members. This confused me somewhat as they had sent me a paper membership card, which I laminated each year. This led me to visit their office, review government archives, and I even went to the public library in Louisville to learn all that I could about the organization and the distinguished honor that I was awarded.

What I discovered at the time, was that all Kentucky colonels were automatically considered their members, although the organization did not have meetings or allow members to actively participate in the decisions made by the operations, management, or administration of the organization like other membership associations. Their main activity was strictly charitable in nature, raising money for the Good Works Fund, holding an annual fundraising barbecue, and going to the Kentucky Derby; all of which are very nice, but not exactly what I thought being a Kentucky colonel was all about. Based on the research I performed justified me continuing with the endeavor of developing the organization I was forming online at [] which was focused on developing membership services like a registry and websites for our members, at the time we already had nearly 100 members.

Considering all of the facts that I discovered about the Honorable Order it is probably more appropriate that they call their so-called members, 'donors or supporters', especially since they do not have bylaws that could be read by anyone except their officers, which they refer to as their Generals. It all sounded official enough, as it already led me to assume that I was part of something important that was really not as official as I believed it was. Looking back at the website on the Internet Archive and the chronological events surrounding its development, I had also offered to volunteer to help them develop a website prior to our beginning in 1998, an offer which they flatly rejected stating that they “did not need a website.”

As it seems they like to call their donors and supporters, their members, but do not afford them any privilege or voice to express opinions or participate in any meaningful way. Legally, a membership organization in the United States under the law must provide bylaws to their members, allow members to control the organization, and give members a voice through providing voting privileges. None of these things were true about the Honorable Order, then or now.

Moving on with a Kentucky Colonel Feather in my Hat

In 2000 and 2001, I received letters warning and threatening me from the legal counsel for "The Honorable Order of Kentucky Colonels, Inc. stating that the website I created was illegal, violated their trademark rights, and that I should cease and desist. I never replied or acknowledged the letters; actually, I did not think much of it at all, as I was in a transition period in my life to move overseas and work as an ambassador for the City of Caracas in Venezuela. So, I let the website I developed expire while I published a message on the website for the members suggesting they support the Honorable Order of Kentucky Colonels. In the meantime I moved to Venezuela to collaborate with the mayor of a city of 5 million people as a professional ambassador to the United States in a Sister Cities project from Caracas to Miami and Fort Lauderdale.

A few years after becoming an official ambassador (thanks to my Kentucky colonelcy), the city's mayor was ousted by the socialist government currently running Venezuela. This caused me to get an extra bitter taste for politics (something I had already acquired in Kentucky), so I moved on to the private sector working as a business consultant and analyst. One of the things that impressed Venezuelan business owners the most was the fact that I was a Kentucky colonel, more so than my experience as their city's former goodwill ambassador. It was at that time that I vowed never to represent or be involved in political or religious agendas or ideals again.

A New Start for Kentucky Colonels International

Several years later with the advent of social media, I decided to join Facebook and one of the first things I found online were groups with other Kentucky colonels so I joined all of them. The following year I became the administrator of one of them, and in 2008 I began to convince other group administrators and members to become part of a new objective I started online called the Model United Nations Social Networking Embassy (MUNSNE), since I recognized them as Kentucky's goodwill ambassadors. MUNSNE evolved to become Globcal International which continues today. It was led by myself and other aspiring social media advocates with the ideal of spreading goodwill to affect social change. The organization was so effective in the social media at the time, we went to meet with President Barack Obama at the Summit of the Americas in Trinidad in 2009 for his endorsement.

Globcal International became self-sufficient and it was quickly developing new programs with many others. I decided to focus on the formation of my own project in the Northern Amazon called Ekobius in 2011, while remaining as one of the organization's ambassadors and the administrator of Kentucky Colonels International.

Perhaps one of the worst decisions I have ever made with Globcal International, was I decided to give the opportunity of serving as the president to an inspiring young idealist who had great brave ideas he wanted to implement which I could not achieve at the time being located in Venezuela. When we changed the administration to recognize a new presidential figurehead from Saudi Arabia, he incorporated Globcal International in Washington, DC. in late 2010 and the effort began to take off further; however because he allowed his personal endeavors to get in the way of the organization, the gusto soon fizzled and in late 2012 I took the organization back to reform it, decentralizing it as an unincorporated offshore organization with several of the original members, which continues today under my authority. The organization has also been reincorporated as of last week in Kentucky as part of the organization that I founded to distribute trees.

On the other hand, one of the best decisions I ever made early on in the formation was when I decided to relaunch Kentucky Colonels International in 2009 as one of the social media objectives of the groups I belonged to on Facebook. Many of the people we have today in Globcal International are Kentucky colonels, some of whom have become our most valued members.

In retrospect I made a series of high risk decisions starting with leaving Kentucky and moving to Venezuela, (risks that most are fearful of in many respects) but nonetheless, by never giving up on my ideals and doing what is right for others, the strongest and most worthwhile endeavors remain through my persistence and determination.

Our Motto - One Good Turn Deserves Another

In the reestablishment of Kentucky Colonels International as an informal objective and unincorporated membership association we were once again becoming very active on Facebook. In 2016, we were approached again by legal counsel representing "The Honorable Order of Kentucky Colonels, Inc." who was insisting, now 15 years later, that we were infringing on their trademark rights again, so we agreed to post a disclaimer on our Facebook page which at the time we understood was to be reciprocal. While we have made this abundantly clear to those who join our groups and read our page, they have never once reciprocated on their website or Facebook page.

In 2018, when our Facebook members began discussing online that we were interested in establishing a registry for Kentucky colonels because they were interested in being better known for their commissions and the reformation of a membership development; we were approached by the Honorable Order's Executive Director, Col. Sherry Crose who expressed a desire to work together with us on the project we were planning and asked us to postpone our development until January of 2019, which we agreed to do. After all they are the kings of the realm, earned the respect of many famous Kentucky colonels, and were being provided all the names and addresses of all the new Kentucky colonels being commissioned by the Governor through the office of the Secretary of State under state policy. However after not receiving any further collaboration or messages from them, we decided to move forward with the development later in the year.

Around the same time in November 2019 I also wrote an article on the Globcal International blog expressing our position on the current nomination procedure and potential impropriety that we began to address over these changes made in the procedure which required that Kentucky colonels make donations to the Honorable Order to be able to nominate new colonels, and which needed to be done online instead of in writing. These changes were implemented under former Governor Bevin and in my opinion (in retrospect) were done to give deference to the organization, without regard to our formation or any other legitimate organizations that were set up by Kentucky colonels (each with their legal letters patent) inside Kentucky or abroad. His actions, however, could have been based on the lack of understanding and knowledge which he admitted when he suspended the nominations in 2016 for review by his office, prior to changing the policy.

The first one to sign up for our registry project and membership program being developed was the HOKC Executive Director, Herself, Col. Sherry Crose who submitted the fee, but neglected to complete the form requesting personal information. All the other registrants did complete the form, however we discovered some errors in the form and the process, so we temporarily suspended the program. Meanwhile in late December, I decided to initiate a discussion with the Honorable Order to either assist us in our project or perhaps merge our membership program into their own organization. While contacting the executive director to inform her that she neglected to complete the registry form, after some greetings I suggested we explore the possibilities of a merger to allow them to gradually assume control over our Facebook groups and the online registry program; the HOKC executive requested that we submit a proposal for review by the Generals (their Board of Trustees).

Never Underestimate Goodwill and Integrity

Over the years as a Kentucky colonel and an ambassador I learned a great deal about honor, respect, transparency, and integrity; which in a sense made me into a watchdog looking out for corrupt and inappropriate behavior to protect the organizations that I founded. Even with volunteers I learned to become very cautious and looked into the background of most of our members, I was careful not to permit those who were involved in shaky political or religious agendas as it could tarnish our image.

In the process of preparing the proposal we discovered that the Facebook groups we have online were infiltrated by HOKC Generals, the president of their organization, the social media liaison, their grant administrator and other loyalists, none of whom ever presented their commissions, participated in the social media forum, or made any posts in either of the two groups we administer. This gave us reason to believe that they were there snooping on our membership activities, as informants and potential disruptors rather than as our own members. I learned this when I tried to propose a longer, more qualifying method for nominations to the groups that was used by previous governors suggesting written nominations by postal mail, when the organization's grants administrator spoke up commenting defending Governor Bevin's (their own) policy in one of the groups. As a result, the decision was made to remove all of the HOKC staff we could identify prior to submitting the proposal. Before we submitted our proposal to merge, we also reviewed many articles, an op-ed piece by their executive director, and many other documents that the organization has distributed over the decades to better include their needs in the proposal. Nonetheless the proposal we submitted on January 13th was rejected by the 20th, without a counter offer or any collaboration on their part with our membership program.

All of their activities taken against us and decisions made were contrary to the spirit of the state motto, "United We Stand, Divided We Fall." In my opinion, after so many years of controlling the ideal of what a Kentucky colonel is and denoting what a Kentucky colonel should do or does; they are acting as if they the king of the castle or elitists, which they should not. All of their intentions have been focused on alienating us rather than embracing the ideals and altruistic benevolent values which most Kentucky colonels collectively share.

So now here we are now, turning the table around after suffering great harm, being misled, spied on, and mistreated following numerous threats by lawyers advocating for dominance over thousands upon thousands of Kentucky colonels that have been granted “letters patent” to serve as the state's goodwill ambassadors (the only official duty they can exercise). This now puts us in a position to stand up to the HOKC without being bullied anymore or deceived into believing that our only duty and privilege as Kentucky colonels is to fund their charity and support the causes selected by their generals.

Kentucky is part of the United States and in the United States we have rights under the Constitution, the right to free speech, the right to be heard and the right to assemble. A good friend, one of our new commissioners, Honorable Col. J.D Wilkes reminded me of this recently after appearing in a feature article in Louisville a couple weeks ago and getting his article shared on our Facebook page, when we made contact once again. He had joined our original group formation in 1999, something I only learned the other day when reviewing the Internet Archive.

Standing Under the Law

Under the rights we possess provided by the First Amendment of the United States' Constitution, the US Code, and the Statutes of the Commonwealth of Kentucky we are here to recover the organization that we should have had, based on all that we have learned and come to understand. Someone needs to answer for the malfeasance aimed towards us in 2001, the freedom of others, respect for the law, and answer in the consequence of the scare tactics they implemented to intimidate us in the past.

People cannot stand under a misguided authority, especially a charity that prospers by conducting deceptive practices. There are too many legitimate causes out there that work very hard for the money, Kentucky colonels are not people that should not be beguiled to believe that by channeling their energy through a single organization is better than the actions they can take independently in their own communities. As we suggested to the new Governor, if there is going to be a quid pro quo attached to make nominations, where, Kentucky colonels must make an annual donation to a Kentucky charity to remain active in his own registry, let each colonel choose themselves which charity or cause their money should support; or restore the Commission and its previous nomination procedure to the policy as it stood before Governor Bevin took his elected office.

Based on what we discovered about the HOKC organization, it is abundantly clear that they have been misleading their donors and supporters for many years into believing they are members, at least since 1997, where Gary Gupton their former executive director and senior ambassador writes in an introduction letter to those receiving their commissions, "The members-only organization is reserved exclusively for those titled as Kentucky Colonels." but it is also clear that the letter which was sent out as late as 2015 was fraudulent, because they did not have a website when he supposedly wrote it, moreover he did not have any members.

The HOKC's Amended and Restated Articles of Incorporation on file in Frankfort, that have been on file since 1992 clearly state in Article 13, "The Honorable Order of Kentucky Colonels has no members." Additionally, a similar statement made in Article 6 states, "The corporation shall have no voting members." Both of these items in this document are a clear violation of what it means to call yourself a membership organization under US law.

The US Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) defines the term membership organization as:

“an unincorporated association, trade association, cooperative, corporation without capital stock, or a local, national, or international labor organization that is composed of members, some or all of whom are vested with the power and authority to operate or administer the organization, pursuant to the organization's articles, bylaws, constitution or other formal organizational documents; expressly states the qualifications and requirements for membership in its articles, bylaws, constitution or other formal organizational documents; makes its articles, bylaws, constitution or other formal organizational documents available to its members; expressly solicits persons to become members; expressly acknowledges the acceptance of membership, such as by sending a membership card or including the member's name on a membership newsletter list; and is not organized primarily for the purpose of influencing the nomination for election, or election, of any individual"

The impropriety, deception, and fraudulent presumptive behavior does not end here though, it goes to the core of the organization which provides thousands of donors with membership cards each year that have no validity or privileges connected with them, constantly referring to them as members headed by generals without any real authority over Kentucky colonels themselves. Each Kentucky colonel with his/her letters patent is independent and in reality, reports directly only to the governor. The HOKC is completely independent of the government under the law. Despite this, no one has ever challenged these ideas that they put forth or the decisions being made by their Generals, not even the governors since 1992 are fully aware of what exactly is going on. The great deception of misleading Kentucky colonels, channeling their ideals, and moderating their honor has been taking place in plain sight well over 25 years, instead of focusing on bringing prosperity to the honorable title through those to which the privilege truly belongs.

According to the Model Nonprofit Corporation Act, which defines the legal rights of members, includes:

"formal membership nonprofits have a board of directors, and the members serve as the governing arm of the organization. The nonprofit’s bylaws and articles of incorporation define the rules for membership issues, such as how to become a member, and also detail the rights and responsibilities of members."

They provide medals based on the amount a person donates that have no relation to valor or merit, but are basically for sale so they can be shown off as if they were earned for some action. Some Kentucky colonels have them and others do not. While this seems strange in itself to those who I have spoken with who earn their brevets and medals, many organizations practice this, so it is probably one of the least questionable practices as to getting one signifies that a person has not done much more than make an above average contribution. Most Masonic Orders disagree with the practice as do others where recognition and degrees are earned as a person ascends the ladder as a member or based on an activity or achievement.

There is no room in America, not even in Kentucky, for a charity to operate ignorant of the needs of their members, like a burgermeister or a ‘good ole boys network’ which makes decisions for the benefit of the inner circle without giving due consideration to its constituents. Its principles are contrary to the democratic and social values of the Commonwealth and nation in which it was founded. In this case guiding an honorable and distinguished title that was bestowed without discrimination to so many fine ladies and gentlemen around the world based on their deeds, at their cost, with the sole purpose of developing and maintaining an organization where its members have no opportunity to participate within, to grow from or prosper within.

United We Stand, Divided We Fall - Kentucky entered the Union on June 1, 1792. A little over six months later, on December 20, 1792, the first Kentucky General Assembly adopted the official seal of the Commonwealth, including this phrase as the state motto.

Taking on a Goliath to Restore the Tradition of the Kentucky Colonel

While writing this article I reflected considerably on the repercussions of my change of opinion about the Honorable Order of Kentucky Colonels as I gave them the same deference that former Governor Bevin did. I sent them a donation in January to reactivate my "so-called” membership, which I did not realize was just a way to gain their recognition as a donor, making myself eligible to nominate other colonels, and not a real member of anything really based on the presents of this editorial. Then I began to think about all the Kentucky colonels out there that are truly honored by being nominated and the governor commissioning them, as well, what it would mean to them to have a genuine membership organization that addresses them and the honorable commission with the integrity and respect they deserve, where they actively participate in the functionality of the organization.

While many people get their certificates and hang them on the wall and leave it at that, others do take great prestige in receiving the award and live up to its real meaning. So, it is for these Kentucky Colonels that we are moving forward with our plans by forming our own International Commission to develop a genuine membership organization that is rightly so. We have taken several major steps already by getting a new dedicated website and forming a small commission of distinguished leaders to serve as the initial officers that share many of my sentiments and concerns.

We will also accept proposals for new commissioners to become part of our board based on their understanding, respect, and prominence as leaders in their own communities. Together I am confident that we can restore the significance of the Kentucky colonel and perhaps even eliminate the jokes and presumptions of it being a tongue-in-cheek award through the development of our organization.

To get the organization off the ground I have legalized the commission's formation under the same organization that I founded in 1994 by reinstating it with the Secretary of State in Frankfort on January 21st. Now to take it where it needs to go, we need donations from the public and will need to charge monthly or annual dues to members in order to provide member benefits and services beyond the social media. The online services we have been providing through administering the Facebook groups will remain without any membership fees including our blog and a new website being developed at [].

Most of the ideas we will be proposing for our membership are on the table, while it is difficult for me to organize the project from abroad, the brunt of the work today for many organizations can be completed online. The majority of our officers are located in the United States (none live close to one another), so online development is very essential. We do have our registered agent and an official mailing address is in Richmond, Kentucky, which reinforces our formation. The formal membership forum is based on Facebook and remains open to all Kentucky colonels that have been granted a commission, without cost. Also we have Workplace and Google (paid services) we can rely on as well with our commissioners to provide more integral interaction with live online global meetings.

In addition to myself Col. David Wright, our current governing officers include: Col. J.D. Wilkes, Col. Nicholas Wright, Col. Karen Cantrell, Col. Luis Cruz Diaz, Col. Maria Veneke Ylikomi, and Col. Jon Meier all of whom serve honorably with prestige as commissioners without remuneration as our board. Other Kentucky colonels are currently under consideration as commissioners and officers to help lead our formation as the only ‘membership organization’ dedicated to Kentucky colonels serving as goodwill ambassadors for the Commonwealth authorized under the issuance of letters patent.

Supporting Kentucky Colonels International

On January 30th the formation of Kentucky Colonels International became official. We upgraded our status from an unincorporated membership organization and legalized the commission and foundation as an assumed name corporation in the Commonwealth of Kentucky belonging to Ecology Crossroads (est. 1994), who is our sponsor. To become an independent membership organization like we deserve to be, it is up to our members and other Kentucky colonels to come together and provide us with support we need in the form of donations to better formalize our efforts to succeed. Contributions can be made online through their sponsor using PayPal or a credit card.

As the state's official goodwill ambassadors we have lots of great progressive ideas to implement through the organization including a promotional campaign that allows Kentucky (and non-Kentucky) businesses, travel destinations, and corporations to become involved. We will also accept contributions from the general public and those seeking nominations to become Kentucky colonels through our programs by supporting us and promoting Commonwealth. You can find us on Facebook, visit our website or email us.

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