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DES MOINES, Iowa -- Casey's General Stores’ founder Don Lamberti and his wife Charlene, as well as current Casey’s President and Chief Executive Bob Myers, were named Honorary Colonels of the Militia by Republican Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad, who was sworn into office Friday for a record fifth term, the Des Moines Register reported.
Branstad, who took office after 12 years away, served as governor from 1983 to 1999. During his previous terms, he followed the practice of formally appointing Iowa colonels.
The tradition is centuries old. The idea traces back to medieval England, when kings appointed their friends as military officers. The practice traveled across the Atlantic Ocean and continued with colonial and territorial governors when they needed to raise a militia, the report stated.
In Kentucky, the practice has survived for nearly 200 years and evolved into a well-known charitable organization with 90,000 members. Other states such as Louisiana, Tennessee and Texas have organizations patterned on the famed Kentucky Colonels, although much smaller.
Branstad's aids said his intent is to recognize personal contributions to Iowa, not financial contributions to his campaign. Although, the newspaper noted that 10 of the individuals on his list contributed $5,000 or more to his effort to defeat Democratic Gov. Chet Culver.
The Lambertis, an influential Republican family in the state, contributed $56,000. Meanwhile, Myers, a retired combat naval veteran, contributed $3,250, according to the report.
"These are individuals who serve others," Branstad spokesman Tim Albrecht said. "Gov. Branstad believes these people represent the idea of putting service above themselves."