Like many cherished pastimes, the stamp hobby can soothe the soul. In these turbulent times, stamps also can remind us why we have the freedoms that mean so much to us.
I found one of those reminders on Friday, October 4, at a dedication ceremony for the new Purple Heart stamp held at INDYPEX in Noblesville, Indiana.
I arrived to find members of the Indianapolis Postal Service Color Guard, practicing the Presentation of Colors. This team of veterans has presented the flag at hundreds of events, yet they made sure no soldier would be out of step.
It didn’t take long for close to 200 people to arrive. Stamp collectors lined up early to purchase the stamp and first day of issue postmark for their collections. The crowd was a microcosm of America: young and old, a melting pot of races and ethnicities. Many had served our country with distinction and honor, dating back to World War II. A representative of the Daughters of the American Revolution was an invited guest.
Yes, this was a day to release a new stamp — but more about honoring those who gave so much.
After the anticipated flawless Presentation of Colors, Linda Reid of the Indianapolis USPS sang a rousing rendition of The Star-Spangled Banner, which resonated through the hall.
Speeches solidified the reason for the event. APS President Robert Zeigler said, “We are a free country and the Purple Heart is a reminder of why we are free, how we are free and the great price we have paid to remain free.”
A recipient of the Purple Heart was the next speaker, Specialist Fourth Class Mike Tomes, US Army.
Tomes received his Purple Heart during his 1969–71 tour of duty in Viet Nam. A military policeman, he was part of a convoy escort when hit with shrapnel. Tomes was quite humble as he spoke, showing great respect for those who received a Purple Heart but never returned home.
Tomes then joined Zeigler, Indianapolis Postmaster Christi Johnson Kennedy and USPS District Manager Todd Hawkins in unveiling this resplendent stamp. While this is the 11th time a US Purple Heart stamp has been issued, the crisp photography and design of the 2019 edition is marvelous, and a fitting tribute.
Specialist Fourth Class Mike Tomes, US Army.
Within a few hours of the event, all of us returned to our “real world.” But thanks to this very special stamp, each attendee had a few hours to honor and remember the sacrifice of Mike Tomes and the other 1.8 million Purple Heart recipients.
Thank you for your service.
APS member Casey Jo White shows her artwork designed to commemorate the Purple Heart issue.
Indianapolis Postmaster Christi Johnson Kennedy, Robert Zeigler, Mike Tomes, and USPS District Manager Todd Hawkins.