WASHINGTON - A beaming, twinkle-in-the-eye Ronald Reagan is depicted on a new commemorative stamp, perhaps an especially fitting honor for a former president who is said to have sent at least 10,000 letters in his lifetime.
The 37-cent stamp was unveiled Wednesday in ceremonies around the country, including at the Ronald Reagan Building International Trade Center. Several of those in attendance, calling themselves "Reaganites" and Reagan administration "alum," recalled Reagan's sense of humor and bright optimism, saying those characteristics were evident in the painting used for the stamp.
James Miller, chairman of the Postal Service board of governors, said the stamp shows Reagan's famous smile, tilt of head and twinkling blue eyes in a way that captures the "warmth, personality and humanity of Ronald Reagan."
The ceremony included a video tribute to Reagan, including clips of his youth and his time in office, along with his wife, first lady Nancy Reagan. The video called him "a man of letters," saying Reagan sent more than 10,000 letters during his lifetime.
Frederick J. Ryan, chairman of the Ronald Reagan Foundation, said that due to Reagan's love of letter writing, the title "great correspondent" would be fitting for the 40th president who frequently as been called the "great communicator."
Performances at the ceremony included Lee Greenwood, who sang the national anthem and his hit "Proud To Be an American" and Crystal Gayle, who sang a medley of patriotic songs. Several of the speakers unveiled an 11-foot-high image of the stamp for the crowd to see.
People attending the ceremony received small American flags and a pin featuring the new stamp, which many of the guests immediately pinned on their shirts.
As an ex-president, Reagan became eligible for a commemorative stamp in the year following his death. Postal Service policy restricts stamps honoring people other than presidents to those who have been dead at least 10 years.
The official first-day-of-issue site for the stamp was at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and Museum in Simi Valley, Calif.
Official ceremonies were also being held at the California state Capitol in Sacramento and in Dixon, Ill., Reagan's childhood home. Stamp dedication events were also taking place in Florida, Missouri, Montana and Texas.
The post office has 170 million of the new stamps on hand and also is offering a series of Reagan collectables.
Joining Miller and Postmaster General John Potter for the dedication were Edwin Meese III, Reagan's senior adviser and later attorney general; Sen. Ted Stevens, R-Alaska; Rep. Danny K. Davis, D-Ill.; White House chief of staff Andrew Card, and Kenneth M. Duberstein, who served as Reagan's last chief of staff.
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