President Reagan’s famous smile and blue eyes shine from a new postage stamp issued Wednesday in ceremonies across the country. It’s the latest in an already-high stack of honors bestowed on the former president since his death eight months ago.
“We wanted to produce a stamp that embodied Ronald Reagan’s warmth, personality and humanity,” James Miller, chairman of the Postal Service board of governors, said in prepared remarks. “This stamp captures the twinkle of his eyes and the charismatic grin that reflected Ronald Reagan’s eternal optimism.”
The official first-day-of-issue site for the commemorative stamp was at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and Museum in Simi Valley, Calif.
But, while a single site suffices for most new stamps, official ceremonies were also being held at the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center in Washington, the California state Capitol in Sacramento and in Dixon, Ill., childhood home of the 40th president. Stamp dedication events were also taking place in Florida, Missouri, Montana and Texas.
The post office has 170 million of the new 37-cent stamps on hand and is also offering a series of Reagan collectibles.
Miller, who served as head of the Office of Management and Budget under Reagan, recalled the former president as a down-to-earth man who could help others break the tension.
Once, when Congress and the president couldn’t agree on a budget and the government was faced with a shutdown, Miller said, “he turned to me, put his hand on my shoulder, and said, ‘Jim, Jim, just settle down. Let’s close ’er down and see if anybody notices.”’
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.; Frederick J. Ryan, chairman of the Ronald Reagan Foundation; and Kenneth M. Duberstein, who served as Reagan’s last chief of staff.
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.
In addition to the commemorative stamp the post office is offering collectibles for sale at its Internet site — http://www.usps.com — and some post offices. These items include:
- An 11-by-14 inch numbered print of the stamp image autographed by artist Michael Deas for $149.99.
- A 7-by-10 inch plaque of the stamp for $24.95.
- A 6 3/8-by-7 9/16 inch Keepsake Folio set that commemorates Reagan’s life through photographs for $12.95.