POSTMASTERS STOCK SPEECH – Dedication of the “Heroes of 2001” Stamp United States Postal Service September 11, 2002
Postmaster General Jack Potter dedicated the “Heroes of 2001” stamp on June 7th at Battery Park in New York City. At the same time, postal officials in towns and cities around the nation also unveiled this historic stamp picturing the three New York City firemen raising the American flag amid the wreckage of the World Trade Center in the aftermath of the September 11th terrorist attack.
Now, one year after that terrible day, we want to remind the American people that they can still help the victims of this national tragedy.
With the “Heroes of 2001” stamp, we pay tribute to those who made the ultimate sacrifice for the people of this great nation, whether in the skyscrapers of New York City, in the military corridors of Washington, or in the air above the rolling fields of Pennsylvania.
They were fire fighters; police officers; medical workers – men and women whose job it was to reach out to others.
They were office workers helping coworkers from the burning buildings. They were passengers on an airplane who sacrificed their own lives so no one else would die – possibly even saving the White House in the process.
They were men and women from all walks of life, who are now tied to one another forever because of their sense of duty and desire to help others without regard for themselves.
And just a few short weeks after that terrible day, they were postal workers as well. Two of our own were cut down in service to our country as the result of the bioterrorism attacks on our nation through the mail.
We mourn those we have lost but we take strength in their compassion, their dedication, and their selfless commitment to helping others.
With this stamp, we are proud to honor the many firefighters, law enforcement officers, paramedics, emergency medical technicians, members of the clergy, and other emergency professionals and volunteers who were all on the front lines in the aftermath of the terrorist attacks of September 11.
Some sacrificed their lives in the line of duty; all of them heroically put duty and service before personal safety.
Like the Breast Cancer Research stamp we issued in 1998, the “Heroes of 2001” stamp is a semipostal stamp. These are stamps that are sold at a higher-than-First-Class rate in order to raise money for a specific charity.
In this case, all the proceeds from the surcharge on this stamp are going to the Federal Emergency Management Agency to administer on behalf of the families of the emergency relief personnel who died or were permanently disabled in the line of duty in connection with the attacks on September 11.
The American people have responded overwhelmingly in support. I am proud to say that sales of this semipostal stamp are surpassing expectations, with more than 23 million of them already sold.
So, the “Heroes of 2001” stamp is more than just a reminder of the bravery of those who risk their lives every day, as well as the courage of Americans in the face of unimaginable dangers. It is also a concrete way to help the families of those very same people.
The World Trade Center buildings were a symbol of American commerce, just as a postage stamp is a symbol of the free flow of our nation’s thoughts, speech, and yes, commerce.
Much has changed since that day in September. Some of us may be tempted to trust a little less.
Rather, I encourage you to look to the example of the heroes of 2001, and instead to trust a little more. The American people have shown their true spirit since that terrible day and it is a giving spirit, a helping spirit, a united spirit.
So we ask every American to use the “Heroes of 2001” postage stamp for every letter and package they send. Because by doing this, we are using this vivid image to send more than just a letter – we are also sending a message:
We are Americans. We do not shirk our duty. We do not flee from danger. And we do not forget our heroes!
One of our greatest leaders, Abraham Lincoln, comforted our nation in the aftermath of another great national tragedy, the Civil War. As we stand here today, in the remembered shadow of the World Trade Center, let us reflect upon his words:
The mystic chords of memory, stretching from every battlefield and patriot grave to every living heart and hearthstone all over this broad land, will yet swell the chorus of the Union, when again touched, as surely they will be, by the better angels of our nature.
The better angels of our nature have been on display at ground zero ever since that tragic day one year ago. And they were on display at the Pentagon in Washington, and in the air over Pennsylvania.
We now have this generation’s patriots’ graves.
Ground zero is now a patriots’ grave.
The Pentagon is now a patriots’ grave.
And a field in Pennsylvania is now a patriots’ grave because of the courage of the heroes of United Flight 93.
But each of them is more than simply a patriots’ grave. Each of them is also a monument to the indomitable spirit of freedom that is at the heart of our great nation and its citizens.
It is my hope that this special image will remind us of all those brave men and women – the Heroes of 2001 – for many, many years to come, and that the better angels of our American nature will provide some small comfort to their families – the families of American patriots.
Thank you all very much.