For the price of a stamp (Global International, $1.25), I can send a letter or card to my cousins in Switzerland and Canada. The 2020 Global stamp features a beautiful chrysanthemum. For the price of a stamp (Forever, domestic, 55 cents), I can send a note, thank you, condolences, and other messages to anyone in the country. For the price of a stamp, I can honor history, celebrate musicians, view gardens, national parks, and other landscapes. For the price of a stamp, I can acquire a beautiful piece of art. For the price of a stamp (35 cents), I can write postcards with a political message to voters throughout our country.
All of this is available through the USPS, even though the Postmaster General Louis DeJoy does not know the price of a stamp. In a Congressional hearing on Aug. 24, when questioned about the cost of mailing a postcard, Mr. DeJoy stated, “I’ll submit that I know very little about postage stamps.”
As the politicization of the office grows, threatening the timely delivery of important documents, medications, packages, and mail-in ballots (note: vote early!!) to the American people, the rank and file employees of the U.S. Postal Service continue to carry on. While the unofficial motto of the USPS is “Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor the gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds,” our postal carriers endure much more. Pandemics, floods, and intense smoke caused by wildfires most likely were not part of their training, yet our mail has been reliable due to the dedication of our postal carriers.
Every note, letter, or card that we send can feature a unique design, thanks to the creative and thoughtful stamp images that are issued each year. Anyone can submit a suggestion for a new stamp. The final selection is made by a Citizen’s Stamp Advisory Committee, which is appointed by the Postmaster General. The process generally takes several years, from selection of a concept to design and development of the image. No living person can be depicted on a stamp, according to the Committee guidelines.
For the price of a stamp, one can revisit history. The 1620 voyage of the Mayflower is depicted on a Forever stamp. Celebration of the 19th Amendment reminds us that women did not always have the right to vote. As a regular viewer and listener of the PBS Newshour, one cannot forget the iconic Gwen Ifill (1955-2016), one of America’s most esteemed journalists. The Gwen Ifill stamp was issued as the 43rd stamp in the Black Heritage series.
Another of the artistic offerings of the year is a series of Forever stamps featuring the intricate wire sculptures by Ruth Asawa (1926 – 2013). Japanese American Asawa is a cultural treasure in San Francisco and around the world, whose works are featured in the Fine Arts Museum of San Francisco, DeYoung; the Guggenheim Museum; and the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York. The Ruth Asawa Forever stamp was released on Aug. 13 and is available, as are other stamps, through USPS.com or in post offices throughout the country.
For the price of a stamp, a letter might feature an image of an iconic American garden. Featured gardens include the Biltmore Estate Gardens (North Carolina); Brooklyn Botanic Garden (New York); Chicago Botanic Garden (Illinois); Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens (Maine); and others. Just in time for summer, stamps featuring fruits and vegetables were issued on July 17.
For a slightly higher price of a stamp (65 cents), one can support a charity with a semipostal stamp. Current semipostal stamps on sale through the USPS have raised millions of dollars in support of research, including the National Institutes of Health (Alzheimer’s Stamp and Breast Cancer Research Stamp); U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to support the Multinational Species Conservation Funds (Save Vanishing Species Stamp); and the Department of Veteran’s Affairs (Healing PTSD Stamp).
Due to the pandemic, many people will be voting by mail on Nov. 3. If this is your choice, do make sure that your ballot includes proper postage. Some states will offer First Class postage-paid ballots, but others will not. For the price of stamp, let your voice be heard.
Citizen’s Stamp Advisory Committee. USPS.
Postmaster General Admits He Doesn’t Know How Much It Costs to Mail a Postcard by Grace Panetta. Business Insider, Aug. 24, 2020.
Postal Service Mission and “Motto.” USPS
Ruth Asawa stamps. USPS.com
U.S. Postmaster General. Wikipedia
Wikipedia. Gwen Ifill