War of 1812 Stamp Series Coming in August

Did you know that in August USPS will issue the first in a new series of stamps commemorating the War of 1812? The first stamp in the series features the oldest known painting of the most famous ship of the war, USS Constitution.

The painting, by Michele Felice Cornè, circa 1803, is considered to be the most accurate contemporary depiction of the ship, which acquired the nickname “Old Ironsides” during a victorious battle at the beginning of the war. In 2009, the majestic frigate, now docked at the Charlestown Navy Yard in Charlestown, Massachusetts, was officially designated as “America’s Ship of State.”

Although known as the War of 1812, the conflict with Great Britain—which began on this day—actually lasted two-and-a-half years! Many Americans at the time viewed the conflict as the nation’s “Second War of Independence.” Today, however, the War of 1812 is sometimes called “the forgotten conflict.”

Yet much about the war is notable, including the stunning successes of Old Ironsides, the Battle of Lake Erie in 1813, the burning of the White House in August 1814, the defense of Fort McHenry the following month (which inspired Francis Scott Key’s “The Star-Spangled Banner”), and Andrew Jackson’s lopsided victory over the British at New Orleans in January 1815. Although the young republic barely escaped defeat, disunion, and bankruptcy, it survived the conflict and in the crucible of war forged a national identity.

The first stamp in the War of 1812 series will be issued August 18 at the Charlestown Navy Yard in Boston, Massachusetts. The original painting used for the stamp will be on display at the event. Visit the USS Constitution Museum for more information about the ceremony, which is free and open to the public. To read more about the stamp, visit Beyond the Perf.

In Honor of Those Who Served in Vietnam

We continue our celebration of National Military Appreciation Month today by honoring all those who served in the Vietnam War, one of the longest military conflicts in U.S. history.

This stamp, issued in 1999 as part of the Celebrate the Century series, features a color photograph taken by Howard Breedlove in 1967. The photograph, which shows members of the First Cavalry Division leaping from a helicopter as part of a search-and-destroy mission, was later adapted for the Vietnam Veterans National Medal awarded by Congress. The stamp was unveiled on July 26, 1999, at the New Jersey Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Holmdel, New Jersey.

The Honoring Vietnam Veterans stamp was issued in 1979.

The Vietnam War was the nation’s most bitterly divisive conflict since the Civil War and inflicted political and social wounds that a quarter century later were still not completely healed. The terrible personal toll taken on the soldiers who served and their families was arguably even greater. We thank them all for the sacrifices they made.

The Conflict in Korea

From June 1950 to July 1953, the United States was engaged in conflict with North Korea and the Soviet Union in what would be known as the Korean War.

The U.S., as part of the United Nations’ forces, enacted an immediate military response to Soviet-backed North Korea’s invasion of South Korea on June 25, 1950. For two months U.N. troops, led by United States general Douglas MacArthur, were forced to retreat from the border, establishing a stronghold in the southwestern portion of the peninsula.

Eventually the North Korean army was driven back across the 38th parallel—the dividing line between the two countries. For three years, U.S. troops defended South Korea’s independence and the world’s right to democracy.

On July 27, 1953, an armistice was reached. The Cold War positions adopted by the United States and Soviet Union as a result were drawn hard and fast along the tensely guarded 38th parallel.

Fighting half a world away, many Americans were disconnected from the conflict, but the effects of the Korean War were known all to well to the veterans and those who sacrificed their lives in the heat of battle. We commend all of the U.S. servicemen who answered the call of duty and fought for freedom.

In 1985, the U.S. Postal Service celebrated the brave veterans of the war with the Veterans of Korea stamps. As part of the Celebrate the Century series on the 1950s pane, a stamp honoring the Korean War was issued in 1999.

What sort of impact did the Korean War have on you and your family?

Armed Forces Utilize the Strength, Agility of American Aviation

Advances in aviation since the Wright brothers’ first airplane flight in 1903 have had a significant impact on our country’s military power. Issued in 1997, the Classic American Aircraft pane features 20 planes representing the first 50 years of powered flight in America, many of which were instrumental in times of conflict.

Grumman’s F4F was the Navy’s first line of defense in early World War II. It out-fought the faster, more agile Japanese Zero at the Coral Sea, Midway, and Guadalcanal. The Wildcat’s rugged service continued throughout the war.

An early 1930s breakthrough, this sleek monoplane took over the job of bomber from big, slow biplanes. The Martin B-10 carried a one-ton cargo, opened the eyes of strategists, and pointed the way to the hardy B-17 and B-24.

The bent-winged F4U achieved one of World War II’s highest victory ratios. Impressive in ground support, the Vought Corsair also served effectively in Korea. The plane was retired in the 1970s with a long and distinguished international record.

The Boeing B-17 is an American legend. In World War II, it carried the air war to Germany, bombing heavily defended targets while dodging flak and enemy fighters. Able to withstand severe damage, the ‘Fort’ commanded great respect.

Beautiful, agile, powerful, the North American P-51 is rated by many as the best fighter of WWII. The Mustang escorted bombers over Europe and the Pacific, sweeping the skies, and winning the hearts of its pilots.

These classic machines paved the way for countless advances in aviation technology, keeping American armed forces on the cutting edge. What kinds of aircraft would you like to see on a future stamp?

Civil War: 1862 Souvenir Sheets Now Available!

Today the U.S. Postal Service continues its series commemorating the 150th anniversary of the Civil War, joining others across the country in paying tribute to the American experience during the tumultuous years from 1861 to 1865. A souvenir sheet of two stamp designs is being issued each year through 2015.

For 2012, one stamp depicts the Battle of New Orleans, the first significant achievement of the U.S. Navy in the war, while the other depicts the Battle of Antietam, which marked the bloodiest day of the war and a major turning point. The are being issued in sheets of 12.

The Battle of New Orleans stamp is a reproduction of an 1862 colored lithograph by Currier & Ives titled “The Splendid Naval Triumph on the Mississippi, April 24th, 1862.” It depicts Admiral David G. Farragut’s fleet passing Forts Jackson and St. Phillip on the way toward New Orleans.

Digital Color Postmark Keepsake (click to order)

In the opening months of 1862, Union forces won a series of battles in the West, taking control of Kentucky and most of Tennessee, including the state capital of Nashville. This string of victories culminated in the surprising and hugely important capture of the bustling port of New Orleans, the South’s largest and wealthiest city and the gateway to the Mississippi River.

To take New Orleans, the U.S. Navy had to find a way of getting past two forts, Jackson and St. Philip, located on opposite banks of the Mississippi River some seventy miles below the city. For this task, Secretary of the Navy Gideon Welles selected David G. Farragut, a sixty-year-old career officer who had served in the Navy since he was nine and had fought in the War of 1812 and the Mexican War.

Assisting Farragut was his foster brother, David D. Porter, a Navy lieutenant who commanded a mortar flotilla that was to prepare the way for Farragut’s fleet by bombarding the forts. Bombarding began on April 18 and continued for six days. But when it failed to subdue the forts, Farragut decided, against the advice of Porter and others, to run the gauntlet and hazard a hail of cannon fire from the forts. At 2 a.m. on April 24, he gave the signal for his fleet to make the daring attempt.

First Day Covers (click to order)

When his vessels were spotted shortly thereafter, the forts opened fire and each ship returned fire as it came within range. The flagship Hartford received numerous hits and was set aflame by a fire raft after running aground above Fort St. Philip. But the crew managed to gain control, and by daylight Farragut and his squadron were well past the forts and on their way to New Orleans. All but three of the seventeen vessels made it upriver, while Union fatalities from the fierce shelling were limited to 37 sailors.

On April 25, Farragut’s fleet reached the city, which was lightly defended since Confederate leaders had diverted troops to the eastern theater, confident that an attack from downriver would never succeed. On May 1, Union General Benjamin Butler’s troops occupied the city.

The capture of New Orleans was a major victory for the Union. It placed the Confederacy’s most vital port in Union hands—affecting southern trade, finance, and shipbuilding. It also gave the Union access to the Mississippi River and important Southern towns such as Vicksburg and Mobile. Perhaps of even greater importance, the South’s failure to defend one of its key economic assets dealt a severe blow to its efforts to win diplomatic recognition and material aid from Britain and France.

Farragut’s triumph made him a hero to the North and resulted in his promotion to rear admiral. He was ultimately promoted to full admiral, the first in the history of the U.S. Navy.