COL Postal Service to honor Irving Berlin
By Syd Kronish
America fervently sings "God Bless America." The U.S. Postal Service echoes with "God Bless Irving Berlin."
Berlin, songwriter supreme and accomplished author who helped change the direction of American popular music in the 20th century, will be honored by the Postal Service with a new 37-cent commemorative stamp.
It is a fitting tribute to the man who rose from immigrant poverty to receive the Presidential Medal of Freedom and the Congressional Gold Medal.
Berlin was born in Russia on May 11, 1888 and died at the age of 101 on Sept. 22, 1989.
The new stamp features a portrait of Berlin taken from a black-and-white photo by photographer Edward Steichen.
The photo which was colorized for the stamp art is superimposed over Berlin's handwritten score of "God Bless America." His signature appears at the bottom of the stamp.
Berlin's 1,000 hit tunes range from his first big one "Alexander's Ragtime Band" in 1911 to such memorable songs as "There's No Business Like Show Business," "White Christmas," "Easter Parade" and the score from "Annie Get Your Gun" in 1946.
His "God Bless America" has been referred to as the second national anthem, especially since the tragic events of Sept. 11, 2001.
It was first sung by Kate Smith on Nov. 11, 1938 in an Armistice Day program. It became an immediate hit.
Berlin wrote the song in 1918 at the end of World War I.
However, he thought it was too solemn and put it away for a time. Later popular demand made it No. 1 on America's "Hit Parade."
The new Berlin stamp was dedicated at the 11th annual "Broadway on Broadway" program, the official kickoff for the Broadway theater season at Times Square in New York City.
First-day-of-issue postmarks are available by mail.
You can buy the stamp at your local post office after Sept. 15. Affix the stamp to your envelope, address the envelope and place it in a larger envelope addressed to Irving Berlin Commemorative Stamp, Postmaster, 412 8th Ave, Room 2029B, New York, NY 10199-9991. All orders must be postmarked by Oct. 15.
You can also order the Berlin stamp by telephone by calling (800)-STAMP-24.
According to the U.S. Postal Service, the year 2000's most significant event in philately was the appearance of the nation's first stamps containing holographic images. They were part of a set of 15 Space Achievement and Exploration stamps issued in five souvenir panes to salute World Stamp Expo 2000. The panes also included the first-ever U.S. circular and pentagon shaped stamps.
The Postal Service provides a selection of stamps and other philatelic material in the Postal Store at www.usps.com.