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Hey, Hunter, what are you wearing under that kilt?

“Curium perficio” is the motto of my family, the Hunter clan. Roughly translated it means, “I have completed the course.”

Surviving this whole coronavirus thing (so far) tells me that my motto is extremely appropriate.

I have always been into heritage, and as a child I was blessed with a father who also had the passion for tradition, ceremony and ethnic pride. It must be a British thing.

How many of you can say you have a family crest or emblem, a tartan (I have two) or a war cry? That’s right, I said “war cry.”

When facing a foe, my ancestors shouted, “Haud at Hunds o Hunterston” as they charged forward. Personally if it were me facing a foe, especially one that wanted to impale me, I think I would be using a different strategy, like negotiating or fleeing.

When I first moved to the United States in 1990, I not only brought my personal belongings, I also brought my history, attitude and pride. My new father-in-law, a Campbell by name, also shared in my passion for all things Irish, British and, yes, Scottish too. So I ordered a kilt with all of the accessories. As far as my tartan goes, I was given a choice between Royal Stewart or Ancient Hunter. I prefer the softer tones of the Hunter plaid, compared to the bright and bold Royal Stewart.

My order was sent off to Edinburgh for fabrication. Did you know the term “the whole nine yards” refers to the yardage needed for an authentic Scottish kilt? Another fun fact around kilts is how they were removed for battles. The sight of hundreds of naked angry Scotts running toward you usually intimidated their foe. This easy-on, easy-off garment was usually unwrapped at night and used for bedding. My favorite kilt feature is the traditional protocol of no underwear. Whenever I go out wearing my kilt, someone will approach me and without hesitation, bark out the words, “Hey, is it true...?”

Six weeks after my order was submitted, I received a call telling me that my package had arrived and I needed to do a fitting just to make sure all was as it should be. My kilt was perfect. I also received a Sporran (that funny little fur-covered man-purse that sits low in front, a pair of stockings and flashes, a pair of Ghillie Brogues laced shoes, a black belt with silver Celtic buckle, a kilt pin, a Prince Charlie vest and jacket with tails, a formal shirt, cuff links, a black bow tie and finally, a sgian-dubh (pronounced ski-an-do), that small knife tucked into your stocking.

Before he passed away, my father-in-law and I would go out in our kilts. We both walked taller and, yes, I must say, being decked out in either a formal or casual kilt there is a certain feeling that takes over your being. I call it pride, just like my family motto.

So for me, when I look back over the years, especially now that we are in the final stages of self-imposed quarantine, I can honestly say that yes, I have accomplished my goal, which was simply to survive this pandemic. It has been a couple of years since I last wore my kilt, and hopefully I get to do it again, really soon.

Richard Hunter lives in Jacksonville.

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