Kentucky Colonel Foundation

Kentucky's Goodwill Ambassadors

Protagonists of Culture, Customs, and Tradition

Kentucky Colonel

Kentucky Colonel is the highest title of honor bestowed by the Commonwealth of Kentucky. Commissions for Kentucky colonels are given by the governor and the secretary of state to individuals in recognition of noteworthy accomplishments, contributions, and outstanding service to community, state, or the nation.

The Governor of Kentucky bestows the honor of a colonel's commission, through the issuance of letters patent. The commission is a legal act of the Office of the Governor and lifetime appointment. -Wikipedia

Our Organization

The Kentucky Colonel Foundation is a non-governmental, not for profit fraternal and mutual benefit membership organization dedicated to providing educational and historical information about Kentucky and its colonels.

Formerly developed as an unincorporated fraternal association in October of 1998; in January of 2020 our formation advanced to become an international civil society organization (iCSO) and cooperative membership association organized and established under the First Amendment of the United States Constitution and the US Code of Federal Regulations.

Illustration of the Kentucky Coat of Arms from 1876
Historic representation of the Kentucky Coat of Arms (c. 1876). State motto, "United We Stand, Divided We Fall"

About Us

Kentucky Colonels International, is now known as the Kentucky Colonel Foundation as of February 26, 2020 and was originally established in 1998 to give prominence to the Kentucky Colonel Commission as a meritory award with diplomatic credence that is respected and understood internationally. Our concept is in the independent formation of a membership development program based on fellowship. The organization is open to all those who have received the prestigious honorary title from the Governor of the Commonwealth in service as his 'Aide-de-camp' which designates them officially as a goodwill ambassador for the state with letters patent (which is a legal document) resulting in a lifetime commission.

Kentucky colonels serve both the state and the acting governor directly without remuneration and without regard to political party, race, gender, civil status, or religion.

As goodwill ambassadors, Kentucky colonels are dedicated to community service, contributing to the welfare of the state, and improving the lives of others to make the world a better and safer place for everyone. Today there are more than 100,000 Kentucky colonels living in 70 countries and more than 12 organizations that have been formed since the turn of the 21st century. Their official (optional) responsibilities include promoting tourism, economic development, participation in community service, and fostering the general prosperity of the Commonwealth of Kentucky and its citizens.

Take Notice

Updated April 10, 2020

On February 20, 2020 "The Honorable Order of Kentucky Colonels, Inc" (HOKC) filed a lawsuit in the US Federal Western District Court of Kentucky against this organization formerly named and legally incorporated in Kentucky as "Kentucky Colonels International" (among various unknown others) for infringement of a US Trademark Registration that they filed on February 17th for "associations" to reinforce their own exclusive rights to the use of term "Kentucky Colonels" as their trademark following our own legal establishment on January 30th, 2020 based on our unincorporated formation that has existed since 1998.

As we have come to understand "Kentucky Colonel" and the term "Kentucky Colonels" in our use referring to more than Kentucky Colonel cannot be exclusively trademarked because they are both terms that belong to the "Public Domain" based on the book "A Kentucky Colonel" by Opie Read written in 1890 and other numerous instances of the use of the terms prior to their registration. See our section entitled "Resources".

The HOKC sought an Injunction and gained a Temporary Restraining Order against our membership organization for using the term "Kentucky Colonels," because they claimed it for their own exclusive commercial use and control in the marketing of consumer products such as cigars, t-shirts, candy, barbecue sauce through a for-profit third-party and now for association events and fundraising.

The bringing of the lawsuit disrupted and harmed our lawful development significantly essentially because the HOKC felt threatened that we had a successful program underway and on track that treated Kentucky colonels accordingly. The total damage assessment of their wrongful lawsuit exceeds $250,000 in damages to our work product and formation.

(See Our Response Below)

News About the Case

On February 25 the HOKC was granted a Temporary Restraining Order valid for 14 days prohibiting us (and unknown others) from using the term "Kentucky Colonels" to raise funds based on their claims that we (and others) were intentionally causing confusion with the public according to their allegations. A Hearing was scheduled for March 04, 2020 to review their demand, we filed our Answers and Motions with the court to defend the allegations on March 2nd. Their counsel filed an addendum to their motion on March 3rd which we could not respond to. The Judge recused himself from the case.

The Temporary Restraining Order was extended to March 24th and was extended again until April 7th. Meanwhile we have taken steps to no longer request donations or pursue the development of a paid membership program using the term "Kentucky Colonels".

Complying with the Court

On February 27th we were in full compliance online with the Judge's Order which was served by the plaintiff the previous day. While the HOKC is seeking to remove us from the Internet, there is very little they can do to stop a Kentucky colonel or a group of us from calling ourselves Kentucky colonels, considering all have been given the title of "Kentucky Colonel" by many different governors with letters patent and that the honorary title predates their organization's existence. The HOKC started its formation in 1931 with Governor Sampson who adopted the ideals that began forming dating back to 1895 starting with Governor William O'Connell Bradley, perhaps sooner if we include those representing themselves as Colonels from Kentucky during and before the Civil War.

Defending our Honor

In our defense as the term "Kentucky Colonels" has been and is still used domestically and internationally by many organizations developed for similar benevolent fraternal purposes and by civil societies since at least 1901, we say it deserves its permanent place in the "public domain" where it has existed since it began, and technically will always remain.

In preparing our defense there has been extensive investments made in historical research discrediting the Plaintiff in this case including who the first colonel was, when the ideal was born and a great number of other details about their own organization and enterprises they support.

We are standing firmly upon our civil rights to preserve our ideals understanding the US Constitution which state:


Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

Currently, we feel that the US Trademark laws are undermining the Constitution of the United States, which have allowed the HOKC to bring this lawsuit to the Federal Court as a verified complaint against us, or perhaps more probable the HOKC is abusing the use of these laws?

Apparently not many colonels are well informed about the case, the HOKC does not like to comment about it much, and we have taken our formation to the international theater unincorporating it from Kentucky. Either way if we cannot find legal counsel or the ACLU does not take our case, we will have to default and ignore the lawsuit, which in essence means nothing except that we will not be able to sell anything or raise funds using the term "Kentucky Colonels", if a Federal Judge makes such an order which would violate our rights.

Statements

  1. Our organization was established as an international civil society organization (iCSO) for those who have been recognized and commissioned with the 'honorable' title of the Kentucky Colonel.
  2. The "Kentucky Colonel Foundation" is not associated, affiliated or a part of "The Honorable Order of Kentucky Colonels, Inc." although many of our members do support their charitable organization by supporting their "Good Works Fund" voluntarily to make the lives of Kentuckians better.
  3. We changed our name on February 26th to "Kentucky Colonel Foundation" a name that will be registered in three countries, formerly known as "Kentucky Colonels International" to avoid any confusion between us and the registered trademarks "Honorable Order of Kentucky Colonels" and the 4 trademarks registered for commerce as, "KENTUCKY COLONELS" used by The Honorable Order of Kentucky Colonels, Inc. (HOKC).
  4. The Honorable Order of Kentucky Colonels is not a membership organization as most people believe, this is stated in their Articles of Incorporation in Article VI and Article XIII Third. They do recognize their donors as honorary members, but do not offer members voting privileges or direct participation in their affairs like the National Rifle Association (NRA), Sierra Club, or other organizations such as our own.
  5. The Kentucky Colonel Foundation currently offers social media services to its free members and had planned to offer professional services to dues paying voting members that are unique, which involve fraternal membership benefits using a decentralized computer network which provides biographies, memorials, news distribution, media services, secure email, networking, and websites for its members. We will now be doing this from a new website domain [colonels.net].
  6. This notice has been placed here on the front page of our website to alleviate any potential confusion the "public" or "colonels" may have or are experiencing as a result of this lawsuit and the existence of Kentucky colonels in the world today. There are other Kentucky colonels groups and organizations listed the Resources page of this website.
  7. We offer anyone who can show that they have donated any money to us believing that we were the Honorable Order of Kentucky Colonels at the time they made their contribution can claim a full refund by writing to us and providing your receipt.
  8. Finally, since we were forced to abandon our flagship for "Kentucky Colonels International" in Kentucky as a result of this lawsuit, we have taken steps to offshore our decentralized autonomous organization formation to the world theater that it has been developed for as goodwill ambassadors with our colonelcy to establish ourselves as a foundation and benign non-state actors to better exercise our rights under Admiralty, Maritime and International Customary law.

For more information about the lawsuit and we welcome visitors to see our blog and most recent article published on March 10th.

Our Website

Our website is currently under development, the organization is requesting that members provide photos, news, videos, and other relevant information to make improvements for our online formation. As an organization, we will present a number of stated objectives, goals, and purposes herein which can be viewed publicly and transparently. See our menu to see the information we present here.

The Kentucky Colonel Foundation is not a secret society, our development online is to promote members as public figures, community leaders, and goodwill ambassadors that are well-respected, fair, and trustworthy ladies and gentlemen from all walks of life that have been recognized with the honor and virtue of becoming a Kentucky colonel.

We are planning on providing biographical services, news distribution and social media content on the behalf of our members using the website and a social media app that is in the works.

The Order

Being admitted to the Order of the Kentucky Colonel represents that the award recipient has made a noteworthy contribution to society, performed a great deed, accomplished a remarkable personal achievement, or has been recognized for outstanding service to their community. Kentucky colonels are recognized and commissioned for their lifetime to the order with letters patent which permits them to perform and take actions as a commissioned civilian officer of the Commonwealth of Kentucky.

Nominations

In-deed the award is the highest form of recognition bestowed to individuals by the Commonwealth of Kentucky. It can only be granted by the Governor or the Secretary of State based upon being nominated by another individual, or being recognized individually by the state's governor for a noteworthy act that commands the governor's attention. Historically there have been cases where the governor has recognized noteworthy individuals as Kentucky colonels based on formal written suggestions by citizens and officials of the Commonwealth.

Fellowship

Membership to our non-governmental organization is voluntary and open to all Kentucky colonels around the world that have duly earned the distinguished honor to be part of our fellowship. Members of our organization are encouraged to provide information relative to their status, engagement in charitable giving and participate in programs to further their abilities and prominence as honorable ladies and gentlemen serving as the state's goodwill ambassadors. The organization supports the ideals of transparency, hospitality, integrity, respect, honor, and tradition among its members.

Member Services

The organization provides online digital services to its members in the form of personal identification, a vanity email address, biographical websites, an online membership roster, and an electronic smartphone app (under development in 2020). Other ideas and suggestions are being discussed and based on our organization acquiring grant funding for this development.

Since 2006 the organization has been active providing administrative and moderation services online in the social media with the first Facebook groups and fan page dedicated to promoting the development of fraternity, fellowship, and the sharing of news content for Kentucky colonels through our foundation.

International Title Registry

All those who have received a commission may voluntarily become additionally recognized in the International Title Registry (formerly the Kentucky Colonel Registry), an ideal originally introduced by our organization, which recognizes all American and international meritory awards of honor and merit from around the world. The combined program is scheduled to be online the middle of 2020.

The International Title Registry will be operated by the Goodwill Ambassador Foundation a non-state, non-political and non-governmental organization established offshore to maintain neutrality.

Disclaimer

The Kentucky Colonel Foundation (formerly Kentucky Colonels International) is not associated or affiliated with private non-partisan charity, The Honorable Order of Kentucky Colonels, Inc. (HOKC) located in Louisville, Kentucky which provides assistance in the form of gifts and grants to nonprofit organizations and merchandises products to Kentucky colonels. The organization recognizes Kentucky colonels as its donors and does not offer legal membership, it does not allow its donors to vote or have a say in the operation of the organization or influence over its board of trustees, thus our organization was developed to provide Kentucky colonels this type of formal membership.
Under the current circumstances we no longer recommend that Kentucky colonels support the HOKC, but instead recommend that colonels support Kentucky non-profits directly that they independently choose which creates a much greater impact at least 15-20% greater.

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