Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Saving the Vanishing Species Stamps

Earlier this month, the U.S. Postal Service released a new stamp that will benefit the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to support the Multinational Species Conservation Funds. Net proceeds from the sales of the stamp will be divided among the African Elephant Conservation Fund, Asian Elephant Conservation Fund, Great Ape Conservation Fund, Rhinoceros and Tiger Conservation Fund and Marine Turtle Conservation Fund.

The stamp features  an illustration of a tiger cub by artist Nancy Stahl. The artwork on the full sheet of 20 stamps is dark green and includes silhouettes of a rhinoceros, a tiger, a gorilla, Asian and African elephants and a marine turtle. Stahl based both the stamp art and the silhouettes on photographs of wildlife. The phrases “Save Vanishing Species” and “Amur tiger cub” appear on the left side of the stamp. Derry Noyes served as the art director, designer and typographer for the stamp.

This is a "semipostal," a stamp that is sold at a cost higher than the rate required for a first class letter; the excess money collected is used to benefit a specific cause. In the past, semipostal stamps have benefited breast cancer research, FEMA and programs to stop family violence.

The Vanishing Species stamp costs 55-cents each but is a first class letter stamp, worth 44-cents in postage.

For more information, visit www.usps.com.

War Letters

The PBS program "American Experience" showed a segment on "War Letters." It is a documentary-style film that features actors and actresses reading the real letters written to and from Americans serving during wartime, from the Revolutionary War to the Persian Gulf War.

I just watched the 52-minute film online, and I can tell you that it is heart-wrenching and, at times, heart-breaking. Additionally, some of the things they write about and some of the pictures and videos that accompany the letters show the graphic violence that is war.

I think the film also illustrates the importance of writing letters, especially to those at war, as well as the benefits of saving letters. Like few other formats, letters preserve what someone is thinking at a specific time and place. Reading them years later gives us more insight into history than the text books can possibly offer.

But, I think the lessons learned from the film can be carried over beyond soldiers and wartime. Writing,  saving, reading and re-reading letters from and about all aspects of life is something that our society needs to keep everyday life in perspective.

You can watch "American Experience: War Letters" online. There's also a website with additional video and interviews, a book, a related initiative to preserve correspondence from U.S. veterans — The Legacy Project, information about preserving your letters, and much more. Follow the links on the two main websites (PBS and The Legacy Project). 
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