Postal service honors sacrifices of Service men and women

U.S. Postal Service The first edition of the Purple Heart Medal postage stamp (left) was issued in 2003, and has since undergone several re-designs and re-issues.

HOUGHTON — The United States Postal Service announced in October a new design and issue of the Purple Heart Medal postage stamp, to honor the sacrifices of the men and women who serve in the United States military. The Purple Heart is awarded in the name of the President of the United States to member of the U.S. Armed Services who have been wounded or killed in action.

Houghton Post Master Tracy Hokenson said the Purple Heart Medal stamps has been out for many years, but is periodically re-designed, and re-issued.

“They’ve been out for many, many years,” said Hokenson. “They keep changing designs every year, but it’s still the same heart.”

With each new design, he said, each new stamp is issued a new item number, and they have been a popular stamp since they were first issued, with many customers asking for the stamp specifically.

While Hokenson said he cannot remember the exact number of years the stamp has been issued, a colleague said it has been at least 10 or 12 years. Actually, it has been 17 years.

U.S. Postal Service The current Purple Heart Medal stamp, (right) issued in Oct. 2019, bears the same illustration of the medal, but also displays part of the ribbon supporting the medal. Now a Forever Stamp, the stamp price has been replaced with “Forever.”

First issued as a 37-cent First-Class stamp in 2003, the stamp was first in Mount Vernon, Virginia, at George Washington’s Mount Vernon Estate and Gardens.

It was re-designed in 2011, when it became a Forever Stamp. The 2011 Forever Stamp design displayed a slightly larger image of the Medal than what was displayed on the original stamp, with a pure white background.

Forever Stamps are non-denominational First Class postage, which means that they can be used to mail First Class letters no matter what the postal rate. For example, states the USPS, in 2013 it cost $0.46 to mail a normal-sized letter weighing one ounce or less to an address within the United States. In 2014, the rate increased to $0.49. Customers who purchased Forever Stamps in 2013 at the rate of $0.46 each may still use those stamps to mail their First Class letters today without adding additional postage to the envelope.

According the 2013 USPS release, the Postal Service “is working with the Military Order of the Purple Heart, based in Springfield, Virginia to promote this stamp,” a May 2003 USPS release stated.

George Washington established the Purple Heart during the Revolutionary War, the badge of distinction for meritorious action. Originally, it was a heart made of purple cloth, but was discontinued after the war. In 1932, on the 200th anniversary of Washington’s birth, the decoration was reinstated and redesigned as a purple heart of metal, bordered by gold, suspended from a purple and white ribbon. In the center of the medal is a profile bust of George Washington beneath his family coat of arms. The Purple Heart is awarded in the name of the President of the United States to members of the U.S. military who have been wounded or killed in action. According to the Military Order of the Purple Heart, an organization for combat-wounded veterans, the medal is “the oldest military decoration in the world in present use, and the first award made available to a common soldier.”


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