We often hear that Pope John Paul II “spoke of the Knights of Columbus as a strong right arm of the Church.” We also know that the Patriotic Degree Color Corps is the “visible arm” of the Knights of Columbus. I suggest that everyone in the Patriotic Degree consider the variety of uniforms we can wear.
For civic projects such as cleaning a military cemetery, cooking duty at a fundraiser or attending a planning meeting, we wear appropriate pants and a shirt (or Knights of Columbus attire). We wear nametags whenever possible.
The new Fourth Degree uniform lends itself to several “new” applications. Consider it “the business suit for when we need to wear one.” There are times when wearing a short-sleeve Assembly shirt just will not do. The new uniform can – should - be worn when visiting legislators, marching in Pro Life occasions, chairing meetings and more. It may serve as a more effective means to solicit donations from private businesses. Consider wearing it to their workplace on occasion as well as to religious services. Even the most steadfast supporter of the “old regalia” can see the benefit of someone in their Assembly wearing this uniform while testifying at a state Senate hearing on a pro-life cause. I would.
The old regalia can - and should - still serve its traditional purpose for parades, funerals, weddings and other turnouts. People take comfort in tradition. Widows and family members of our brothers take comfort in our turn outs. We stood with pride during papal visits and formed wedding arches. I passed my sword regalia to my (now) son-in-law when he became a Faithful Navigator. If the Lord wills it, years from now I would love to have him pass them down to my future grandson, if we were so blessed.
Consider the Papal Swiss Guards. Their uniforms – and their weapons – have changed over 500 years. Their mission has not. By day they wear the world-famous “Gala Uniform” of red, blue and yellow with swords and halberds. The blue “Exerzieruniform” is worn for training and night duties. Heavily-armed plain-clothed Guards have automatic weapons and pepper spray. They all serve.
There is only one required “uniform” for a Sir Knight. It is whatever he is wearing at the time. We pray to Our Lady, Queen of the Knights to “Make us always aware that as your Knights, we are constantly observed, our faith judged, and our Order appreciated.” You are not required to own an assembly polo shirt, nor a tuxedo, nor a jacket and emblem tie. There is no requirement to join the Color Corps. There is a uniform of sorts – a uniform code of conduct. “A Sir Knight is always on duty “ever to exemplify in our public and private lives the virtues which should characterize those specially dedicated to the service of the heavenly court.”
I believe that our Order should have Assembly polo shirts, tuxedo-based regalia and the jacket with tie, all for those who need to wear them. We can haggle over the fine details of pins and berets – after all, the Papal Swiss Guards have seen plenty of change in 500 years. Just do not lose sight of who we are.