City councilor receives mysterious honor
Feb 17, 2013 (The Keene Sentinel - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) --
Keene City Councilor Kris E. Roberts was stunned when he recently learned he'd been named as an honorary Kentucky Colonel, especially since he has no idea who nominated him, or why he was accepted.
Roberts knows a thing or two about public service. In addition to being a multi-term councilor, he also serves on the Keene Board of Education, and is a N.H. state representative. Besides that, Roberts served in the Marine Corps from 1977 to 2001, and has worked to help fellow service veterans in a variety of ways.
His time in the service took him to faraway lands such as Panama, Costa Rica, Saudi Arabia and Japan, and garnered him two commendations and three achievements for "superior service," even giving him the opportunity to serve as a commanding officer. He's a member of the Keene State College Athletics Hall of Fame for his role in the 1975 cross country team that finished fifth in the nation, and has received other awards for his community service.
When Roberts received a call around Christmastime from a former state representative who now works in the human resources department at C&S Wholesale Grocers in Keene, he wasn't sure what to make of it. When he was presented with a plaque and certificate signed by Kentucky Gov. Steven L. Beshear declaring him an honorary Kentucky Colonel, his confusion only grew.
"It's really kind of secretive, because I have no idea who nominated me, or why," Roberts said Friday. "I do not know any Kentucky Colonels personally. If you wanted to be a Kentucky Colonel, and you came to me and asked me how to become one, I couldn't tell you."
Roberts recalled having heard of the Kentucky Colonels during his time in the service, but figured it was just "rich fat guys having fun on the golf course."
According to the kycolonels.org website, an honorary Kentucky Colonel "is unwavering in his or her devotion to faith, family, fellowmen, and country," and is "passionate about being passionate."
"One of the big things they talk about is community service, and what you do for your community," Roberts said.
When he found out he'd been named as one, he at first thought it was some kind of joke, until he went home and did some research.
"It's a really select group," he said.
Among those who've shared the honor are Presidents Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan, entertainer Sammy Davis Jr., boxing legend Muhammad Ali, British Prime Minister Winston Churchill, and more recent Hollywood figures such as George Clooney, Ashley Judd and Johnny Depp.
That might explain why, if not how, Roberts was nominated. He worked hard to get a veterans' clinic/center in Keene and Brattleboro, and for three years coordinated transportation for veterans to White River Junction, Vt., site of the Veterans Association Medical Center.
Still, the honor is a mystery to Roberts.
"I'm usually pretty perceptive," he said. "But this is one of the few times in my life where I have no idea who did it or why. Whoever filled out the application must have done a good job, because I'm not in the same league as some of those other people."
Reached by phone Friday, Kerri Richardson, director of communications for the office of Kentucky Gov. Beshear, said she was able to determine that Roberts was nominated for his military service and work with veterans. She was also able to learn the name of the person who nominated Roberts, but didn't want to give that name out without the person's approval.
"That's something that's very important to us here in Kentucky," she said. "We have a huge number of veterans in our state, so it's a really nice thing, and a nice reflection on your councilman. He must have impressed somebody."
Roberts suspects the honor has something to do with those who "think more of others than they do themselves," and it's not hard to make the case for Roberts in that category; despite two strokes, two battles with cancer, and preparing himself for his third pacemaker, Roberts remains committed to helping others in need.
"It's something you do just because it's the right thing to do, or because you have the time," Roberts said of his efforts to help others. And while it was frustrating at first to not know how or why he received the honor, it's something he's come to terms with. "In the end, this is one mystery I might never want to solve, because if I did, I may consciously try to do more of the things that got me nominated in the first place, so I'm getting over the frustration of not knowing."
And while Richardson said the honor "doesn't carry any weight," in that "it won't get you upgraded on an airplane or anything," Roberts did say he's considering taking advantage of his newfound right to attach the title "Colonel" to his name.
"I've never believed in vanity plates," he said. "But I think I'll get vanity plates that say, 'KY-COL.' "
Kyle Jarvis can be reached at email@example.com or 283-0755.
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N.H.) at www.sentinelsource.com Distributed by MCT Information Services
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