Ah, back in the Commonwealth of Virginia after three weeks on the road.
Commonwealth? Isn’t Virginia a state? Not exactly. A number of the original 13 colonies established themselves as commonwealths before 1776 and kept the designation even after creation of the United “States” of America.
Which creates a contradiction in some areas. If Virginia is a “commonwealth,” how can it have a “state police”? A resident who got a speeding ticket some years ago wondered that two and tried to have the case thrown out of court by arguing the “state” police were an illegally constituted agency in the “commonwealth” of Virginia. He got all the way to the Virginia Supreme Court but lost.
But why wasn’t the State Police orginally named the Commonwealth Police? I’ve asked the state police PR people that question a number of times over the years and no one seems to have an answer.
Some years ago, I spoke to a meeting of the American Bankers Association in Evergreen, Colorado. My dinner table companion was Randy McElroy, then CEO of Sovran Bank. The name “Sovran” confused me, both because it was changed from Virginia National Bank after a merger so I asked Randy how they came up with the name.
“We paid a marketing agency an obscene amount of money to come up with that name,” he said. “We merged two banks, one based in Richmond, the other in Norfolk. The name is an acronym for “State of Virginia, Richmond and Norfolk.”
To which I replied: “But Virginia is not a state. It’s a Commonwealth.”
“Son-of-a-bitch,” Randy said laughing. “Nobody thought of that.”
A few months later, Sovran merged with another bank in Atlanta and became NationsBank, a name that lasted about 18 months before another merger created BankofAmerica.