I believe that we need to honor our veterans more and cartoon characters less.
Please pinch me. Did the Postal Service really just announce five stamps for the Simpsons animated TV show?
Even the show’s producer, James L. Brooks was surprised, stating, “We are emotionally moved by the Postal Service selecting us rather than making the lazy choice of someone who has benefited society.”
The Postal Service seems to have forgotten those who have perhaps most benefited our nation—our veterans. Stamp proposals for historic veterans groups such as the Tuskegee Airmen, Native American Code Talkers, and Japanese Americans of World War II are continually rejected while fictional characters like the Simpsons are issued.
I believe that this must change. Over the past three years, I have helped grassroots organizers in support of a stamp honoring the Japanese American WWII veterans gather thousands of petitions, amass hundreds of supporting letters of individuals and civil rights groups, and even collect six resolutions from state legislatures representing Hawaii, California, Illinois, Arizona, Washington, and Oregon. Yet, the Postal Service still says no.
I believe that we as a nation must remember our veterans, especially these three groups.
Veterans pervade our lives. They come from every walk of life, every economic strata, every ethnic background. Just look at the faces of the young men and women serving us proud in Iraq, Afghanistan, and in every corner of our globe.
I believe that we do not need to remember yesterday’s episode of the Simpsons. Let’s remember that veterans such as African Americans, Native Americans, and Japanese Americans, not only served in crucial roles helping to save the world’s democracies over tyranny during WWII. These soldiers helped open the doors of integration of our military, and can rightly be given credit for helping to lay the foundation for civil rights 20 years before Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr, led public protests during the 1960s. Many had to fight and die to demonstrate their worthiness. When the public saw minorities coming home in caskets, in crutches, all representing the United States, we began to become more united as a nation.
I believe that these veterans deserve a legacy that is preserved in our postage stamps.
Let’s honor the history of those like the brave African American airmen of Tuskegee who made the German pilots cower over the skies of Europe. Let’s remember the story of the Navajo, who used their indigenous language to help America develop what would be an unbreakable code for military use, enabling victory of the Allies in the Pacific Theater of the war. Let’s commemorate the Japanese Americans, who, defying logic, racism, and all doubters, volunteered from internment camps during World War II to become one of the most decorated veterans group in American military history.
I believe that it is about time for a few real heroes to be seen on stamps and a few less Homers and Barts.
If you enjoyed this essay, please consider making a tax-deductible contribution to This I Believe, Inc.