RI Commemorative Stamp for Polio Eradication Sought
U.S. congressman introduces resolution to issue RI Centennial stamp U.S. Congressional Representative Brad Sherman (Republican-California) on 25 February introduced a resolution urging the United States Postal Service to issue a commemorative stamp in honor of Rotary's 100th anniversary and the organization's efforts to eliminate polio worldwide. "Rotarians are volunteers who support thousands of humanitarian and educational projects that benefit each of our communities," said Congressman Sherman. "The commemorative stamp will recognize Rotary's first 100 years of public service."
"Rotary was founded 100 years ago in Chicago, and now its influence can be felt not only in the United States, but also around the globe," said RI President Jonathan Majiyagbe, in response to news of the proposed resolution. "It is fitting that the organization is honored in this way." Congressman Sherman was joined by 31 congressional co-sponsors in supporting the proposal to honor Rotary International's centennial anniversary with a postage stamp. Nearly one third of Rotary's more than 1.2 million club members are based in the United States.
Cliff Dochterman, Chairman of the Centennial Committee of Rotary International has appointed Jerry FitzSimmons and Bill Speakman as co-chairmen of a Centennial subcommittee to help coordinate and encourage the issuing of stamps to commemorate the Rotary Centennial in 2005 worldwide. Both are also members of the Rotary International fellowship of Rotary on Stamps. As an important part of this effort, we believe it would be appropriate for the United States to issue a commemorative postage stamp honoring Rotary International on the occasion of its Centennial in 2005. Such a stamp was issued in 1955, marking Rotary's Golden Anniversary. We have previously written last years District Governors and requested their assistance in this effort and are doing so again this Rotary year.
The decision on which subjects to display on stamps is made in an advisory capacity by the Citizens Stamp Advisory Committee (CSAC) which reports to the Postmaster General of the USPS. Unfortunately, the current guidelines of the CSAC are such that the Committee cannot recommend the production of a commemorative for any Civic organization such as Rotary. Thus, almost incredibly, it appears that the United States will be one of the few nations in the world which may not commemorate the Centennial of Rotary's founding. In an attempt to combat this difficult situation, we are proposing to the CSAC to issue a stamp which commemorates the Worldwide Eradication of Polio and Rotary's efforts is this project, which will also coincide with the Rotary centennial year. We have already solicited the support of a member of the CSAC for such a stamp and think that continuing a massive letter writing campaign to the CSAC may provide the impetus for the production of such a stamp even though approval for such a stamp was not recommended during previous CSAC meetings.
To further this effort, we are writing to ask your help. Below is a form letter which we ask you to distribute to as many Rotarians as possible in your District during your club visits, asking them to send it to the Citizens Stamp Advisory Committee. Hopefully, if a sufficient number of letters are received, the Committee will be persuaded to recommend a Rotary commemorative. Also we are requesting that you examine your District's membership to see if there are any individuals who may have some political influence at the congressional level or have some personal influence with the CSAC and gain their support and assistance in this matter.
Citizen's Stamp Advisory Committee
Dear Members of Stamp Advisory Committee:
Being fully aware of the current criteria of your Committee regarding the issuing of stamps commemorating civic organizations, I, However, bring this appeal to your attention for two very significant reasons.
First, a commemorative stamp for the accomplishment of Polio eradication would even transcend the recognition the centennial of Rotary International in the year 2005. The service Club Movement, initiated by Rotary, has been described as one of the major developments of the 20th Century, which provides a formalized the spirit of community volunteerism in the United States. For this reason, alone, a commemorative stamp recognizing the 100 years of Rotary International initiating the service club movement would be a worthy cause to bring to the attention of the American people, as well as around the world. Rotary has extends to over 165 nations into 30,000 communities, and is the most international organization in the world.
A second, and equally if not of greater importance, reason to issue a commemorative stamp is to recognize the achievements of Rotary's PolioPlus program to eradicate the dreaded disease of polio throughout the world. For twenty years, Rotary International has been the major non-governmental organization to lead the fight against polio. Rotary has been the primary catalyst to create a polio-free world because Rotarians have provided not only a half billion dollars in financial support, but has provided many millions of man hours of volunteer effort to mobilize and conduct nationwide polio immunization days and even door-to-door campaigns to immunize children.
When Rotary started this unprecedented program of polio immunization, there were over 120 polio endemic countries, and over 300,000 cases of polio in the world every year. Now that over two billion children have been immunized, there are only 7 countries in which the polio virus is found and there were less than 500 cases in the entire world last year. Rotary is the one non-governmental organization working in partnership with the World Health Organization, UNICEF, and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, to achieve the goal of eradication of polio in the world by the year 2005. This is described as the finest humanitarian effort by a non-profit organization in all history and an achievement for world health cooperation without an equal.
In a May 30, 2002 address at the Global Health Council Awards dinner, in Washington D.C., it was said: "What has been achieved since Rotary International courageously committed to eradicate polio defies description. Polio cases have declined by 99.8 percent. Last year, there were just 480 polio cases reported globally. This is a disease that 14 years ago was paralyzing a thousand children a day. Rotary gave the world a whole new model for what private/public partnerships can achieve and how they best function. Every time we see a world leader administering polio vaccine to a child, or hear about a war being stopped somewhere so children can be vaccinated, we can thank ROTARY for demonstrating how much can be accomplished when a group selflessly uses every ounce of political capital at its disposal to improve the health of the world's poorest children." It is for these reasons that we respectfully ask that your Committee give serious consideration to creating a 2005 commemorative stamp to recognize the Polio Eradication achievement in the world which will also be coincident with a 100 years of achievements of Rotary International.
Download copy of the letter in pdf format
Rotary International's 50th Anniversary Stamp
Rotary Commemorative Stampe: In 1955, the United States joined 26 other nations in issuing a commemorative stamp honoring Rotary International on its 50th anniversary. Although this eight-cent commemorative is not numerically rare (some 80 million were printed), it is the sole "Rotary stamp" ever issued by the country in which Rotary was founded. And like many commemoratives, it has an interesting story. In the months before Rotary's Golden Anniversary of 1955, Emerson Gause, a longtime member of the Rotary Club of Chicago as well as a RI staff member and former editor of The Rotarian, was so impressed with a brochure for The Rotary Foundation that he suggested Willi Wolf Wind, an award-winning stamp designer for the United Nations, adapt the cover design as a commemorative. (Gause went on to help persuade many countries to issue Rotary commemorative stamps for 1955 and the years following). As he began his work on the project, Wind, a U.S. immigrant from Israel, knew neither which country would issue his design nor what the denomination would be (hence the words "X.Y. Postage" in the upper-right-hand corner of the original design, as well as the randomly assigned denomination of three cents). The finalized version of the commemorative went on sale on 23 February 1955 — Rotary's 50th anniversary — in the city of its birth. In a gala dinner in downtown Chicago, just blocks away from where Paul P. Harris and the other founders first gathered, the U.S. postmaster general presented then-RI President Herbert Taylor with an autographed sheet including Wind's original design. View more information on R.I. stamps
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