Tomorrow Is National Public Lands Day: Got Plans?

“This land is your land, this land is my land.” – Woody Guthrie

If you take Woody Guthrie’s famous words literally, you might be interested in National Public Lands Day, which just happens to be tomorrow, Saturday, September 28. Public lands belong to all Americans . . . and just like your own backyard, sometimes these spaces need a little work!

To celebrate National Public Lands Day, volunteers will gather together at sites as varied as state parks, community gardens, beaches, and wildlife preserves to lend a helping hand. You can find a place that’s looking for volunteers in your area by visiting http://www.publiclandsday.org/npld-sites.

This year’s celebration marks the 20th annual National Public Lands Day. In honor of the anniversary, here’s a quick stamp quiz:

Which two 2013 stamps depict places where you can volunteer on September 28th?

Answer: The 1963 March on Washington and The Civil War: 1863

Public Lands DuoThe 1963 March on Washington stamp showcases the National Mall in Washington, D.C. On National Public Lands Day, volunteers will rake leaves, pick up litter, and beautify the area.

One of the two stamps included on The Civil War: 1863 souvenir stamp sheet depicts the Battle of Vicksburg. Volunteers at Vicksburg National Military Park will plant roses at the historic Shirley House on September 28.

Public lands are perennial stamp subjects. (In 2012, they were shown on the New Mexico Statehood and the Glacier National Park stamps). Pitching in on this special Saturday is a way to keep these lands healthy and beautiful for future generations . . . and for future stamps!

Lewis Hine: Made in America

DCP Keepsake

This collectible keepsake package includes one randomly selected pane of Made in America stamps and one randomly selected Digital Color Postmark First Day Cover. Click the image for details.

We love the iconic portraits of industrial workers found on the Made in America Forever® stamps—and while it’s obvious that those pictured are working hard, have you ever thought about the work of the photographer who created the images?

Documentary photographer Lewis Hine (who was born on this day in 1874) created 11 of the 12 stamp images, and four of those document the construction of the Empire State Building, the tallest building in the world from 1931 to 1972. Look at the photos, and take a second to think about this: Where exactly was Hine standing when he took those photos of construction workers balancing on steel girders, with nothing but empty sky behind them?

Capturing those classic scenes involved some risk. In 1930, Hine wrote about one of his most adventurous days at the Empire State Building in a letter to a friend:

My six months of skyscraping have culminated in a few extra thrills . . . just before the high derrick was taken down, they swung me out in a box from the hundreth floor—a sheer drop of nearly a quarter of a mile—to get some shots of the tower. The Boss argued that it had never been done and could never be done again and that, anyway, it’s safer than a ride on a Pullman or a walk in the city streets. So he prevailed.

During his career, Hine also achieved fame as a social reformer.

Hine duo

USPS has issued two other stamps featuring photographs by Lewis Hine, in 1998 (Celebrate the Century: 1910s; left) and 2002 (Masters of American Photography; right).

Best known for pictures of immigrants, child laborers, and industrial workers, he viewed his subjects with compassion and their harsh surroundings with an unflinching eye. His photographs of children working in mines, mills, and factories led Congress to try to regulate child labor, but the Supreme Court declared early laws unconstitutional.

What are you doing for Love Note Day?

When was the last time you sent someone a love note?  Today is the day to let your loved ones know how much you care—it’s Love Note Day!

SealedwithLove-2013-Forever-single-BGv2Love notes are not formal—there are no rules. A love note can be handwritten, long or short, poetry or prose. It can reflect your personal style whether it’s cute, romantic, heartfelt, or humorous. You can illustrate your note with drawings or photos, write in colored ink, or use fancy calligraphy . . . whatever your imagination can conjure. The goal is simply to put your feelings on paper.

Need inspiration to pen a romantic note? Find quotes from famous love letters or instructions on writing a perfect love note.

Notecards

This charming set of Vintage Seed Packets (Forever®) notecards showcases ten images of American garden flowers that appeared on packets printed between 1910 and 1920.

Of course, love notes aren’t just for your romantic partner. Celebrate Love Note Day by sharing your affection with a parent, grandparent, sibling, friend . . . anyone who is important to you. A few lines are all it takes to make someone feel special and appreciated. Who wouldn’t love to be the recipient of such a note?

Like your love note, you can individualize your envelope by choosing the perfect stamp. The Sealed with Love Forever® stamp is an obvious choice, but what about the beautiful flowers of Vintage Seed Packets or La Florida, or the mysterious New England Coastal Lighthouses? The gorgeous mountains of West Virginia or the hot Muscle Cars? You can find something to suit all of your loved ones at usps.com/stamps, by calling 800-STAMP24 (800-782-6724), and at Post Offices nationwide.

Ray Charles Is Third Inductee Into Music Icons Series

Recording artists Ashanti, Kenny Rogers, and Chaka Khan, and Reverend Jesse Jackson were among the luminaries who honored Ray Charles this week. At ceremonies held in Atlanta and Los Angeles on Monday, the legendary singer was inducted into the Music Icons stamp series.

The first event, held at Morehouse College’s Ray Charles Performing Arts Center, featured performances by Ashanti and the Morehouse College Glee Club. The second event, held at the Grammy Museum, featured performances by Chaka Khan and Summer Sessions.

Recording Artist Ashanti performs at the Ray Charles stamp dedication ceremony at Morehouse College in Atlanta.

Recording artist Ashanti performs at the Ray Charles stamp dedication ceremony at Morehouse College in Atlanta.

“Frank Sinatra, himself a stamp honoree, once characterized Ray Charles as ‘the only true genius in show business,’ and certainly, if anyone was a musical genius, it was Ray Charles,” said U.S. Postal Service Judicial Officer William Campbell, who dedicated the stamp at the Atlanta ceremony. “Despite being blind and having a young life marked by tragedy, hardship and tremendous challenges, Ray Charles went on to have a remarkable 58-year career playing music that blurred the lines of jazz, gospel, blues and, in later years, country. In doing so, he became the personification of the American Dream.”

Chaka Khan performed at the Ray Charles stamp dedication ceremony at the Grammy Museum in Los Angeles.

Chaka Khan performs at the Ray Charles stamp dedication ceremony at the Grammy Museum in Los Angeles.

“It is with great pleasure that we honor a man who not only had an incalculable impact on the face of contemporary soul, R&B, gospel and rock, but also touched people individually,” said U.S. Postal Service Sales Vice President Cliff Rucker, who dedicated the stamp at the Los Angeles event. “The third in our new Music Icons series, Ray Charles’ stamp, another tribute to his legacy, will join those of distinguished performers Lydia Mendoza and Johnny Cash, which were dedicated earlier this year. And how fitting that Ray Charles and Johnny Cash, who in life were such great friends and recorded two duets together, will be reunited in the form of postage stamps.”

The Ray Charles Forever® stamp is available at usps.com/stamps, by calling 800-STAMP-24 (800-782-6724), and at Post Offices nationwide. The Music Icons series, which launched May 15, 2013, with the Lydia Mendoza Forever stamp, honored Johnny Cash earlier this year.

Ray Charles at the Movies

This week, we’re celebrating the release of the new Music Icons stamp honoring the irrepressible Ray Charles. Did you know that this musical pioneer, also known as “Brother Ray,” has several links to the silver screen?

Poster

Inspired by mid-century album covers, this graphic 16 x 22-inch print reflects the rhythm and energy of Ray Charles’s music. Click the link for details.

  • Charles was given a Braille copy of the script for the movie based on his life, Ray.

And a final trivia question: Elvis Presley was known for his many film roles. What do Elvis and Ray Charles have in common? Hint: The answer also involves James Brown and Buddy Holly. Give up? Along with Elvis, James Brown, and Buddy Holly, Ray Charles was one of the ten original inductees into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.