CMH Mess Rules
Approved by the Board of Governors October 2003
Formal Mess Occasions
The Company of Military Historians may schedule a formal dinner whenever the cost, the facilities available, and the number of guests expected make such an occasion feasible and desirable. In planning a formal mess occasion, local committees may draw upon the following:
1. Food and Service
a. It should be a function of the local committee to confer with the headwaiter and chefs well in advance of the proposed formal dinner to ensure that every effort is made to achieve the best possible menu and service within existing fiscal and experience limits.
b. Whenever possible, there should be candle light at dining tables.
c. Wine service should be discussed in connection with toasts. The headwaiter should know that the wine will serve a purpose in addition to being a part of the meal, thus timing to accommodate the toasts indicated.
d. If possible, it is desirable to have a printed menu, which should include the sequence of events as well as indicating the food to be served.
e. It is not the policy of The Company to have speakers at the banquet. Optional entertainment in another room following dinner is perfectly acceptable.
2. Head Table
a. This should be placed in such a position as will permit it to be visible from all other tables in the dining room.
b. A lighted lectern and a sound amplification system should be provided.
c. At the head table should be places for the following, accompanied by their dinner partners as appropriate: The President of The Company, the Vice President for Administration, the President Elect (when applicable), the local committee chairman, distinguished guests.
d. The Company banner should be displayed at the head table in a way that does not violate the flag protocol of the host country.
a. For formal mess occasions, the appropriate military uniform to which the individual Company member or guest is entitled is encouraged. The civilian counterpart to formal military attire is equally acceptable. As a minimum, members are expected to wear coat and tie. Company rules prohibit the wearing of military “costumes” at formal occasions, unless the wearer is participating in a program or drill.
4. National Colors
a. The national colors of the country in which the meeting is being held should be displayed.
b. The national colors of the United States and other countries with members in attendance may also be displayed in a manner consistent with the flag protocol of the host country.
5. Sequence of Events
a. Members and guests arrive in the room set aside for cocktails.
b. Whenever an especially distinguished guest is present, may be a receiving line provided that there will be no excessive congestion resulting and there will not be any long lines.
c. Live music is provided whenever possible. Music should not be overpowering and should relate to military themes. During dinner, it should serve as background for conversation not as competition.
d. The cocktail period preceding dinner should in no case be longer than an hour.
e. Call to Dinner and Seating of the Head Table
1) Appropriate music may be used to sound the call for dinner at the completion of the cocktail period. Members and guests move to dinner tables at this signal.
2) While members and guests remain standing at their tables, those with places at the head table move to their seats to the sound of music played by fife and drums, bagpipes, or band.
3) If possible “The Company of Military Historians March” should be used for the call to dinner and a military mess call for seating the head table.
f. Posting of the Colors. (optional)
g. As soon as all members are in place, the President will ask that the Blessing be offered (see the Company Prayer below), with all members and guests standing.
h. Those in attendance will remain standing as the President reads the Last Post and asks for a moment of silence.
i. The President will then ask the members and guests to charge their glasses and remain standing for the toasts.
j. The President offers the first toast using The Founders Cup.
1) If the meeting is in the U.S., the first toast is to the President of the United States.
2) If the meeting is not in the U.S., the first toast is always to the Head of State of the host country. In such instances, this toast is followed by a toast to the President of the United States.
k. The President asks Mr. Vice to then offer the following toasts:
1) To the Queen, (unless this toast has been accomplished in Para. j. 2 above)
2) To the Armed Forces,
3) (Ladies please be seated)
4) To the Ladies
l. The Vice President asks men to be seated and dinner is served.
m. When dessert has been served and during coffee, attention is gained by the Company President using the gavel. The President then
1) Introduces the head table
2) Recognizes the host committee
3) Makes other announcements
4) Recognizes members attending their first meeting by having them rise and introduce themselves, including a statement about their place of residence and main military interest.
5) Announces the Miller Award results.
6) Presents newly elected Fellows
7) Presents the Distinguished Service Award to any newly designated recipient.
n. Following his presentations, the President may, if he desires, offer a brief benediction (see below).
o. The President will then formally close the meeting.
p. Members rise for retiring of the Colors. (optional)
q. Members and guests may move to another room where music and after dinner drinks are available. Those who have bid in the silent auction report to the Flea Market Area.