- The Washington Times - Wednesday, July 4, 2001

NORFOLK, Va. (AP) — The nation's more than 25 million veterans now have a postage stamp that honors their patriotism and valor.
About 150 veterans and other guests gathered yesterday aboard the decommissioned World War II-era battleship USS Wisconsin for the debut of a 34-cent stamp featuring the American flag waving against a blue sky. The phrase "Honoring Veterans" appears at the top of the stamp and "Continuing To Serve" is at the bottom.
"With this stamp we recognize the vital and varied roles veterans have played to ensure our peace," said Henry A. Pankey, vice president of mid-Atlantic operations for the U.S. Postal Service.
Rear Adm. Chris W. Cole, commander of the Navy's mid-Atlantic region, said the stamp will serve as a reminder of the sacrifices made by American military personnel serving around the world.
"As a service member for 30 years, I am touched that the United States Postal Service has taken this step to honor our military veterans," Adm. Cole said during the ceremony in front of gun turret No. 3. The ship was decked out in red, white and blue bunting for the occasion.
John Oroszy, 53, a Vietnam veteran from nearby Chesapeake, said afterward that he views the stamp as a belated thank-you for those who fought in Vietnam, then faced anti-war demonstrations instead of parades when they returned home.
"It definitely tears at your heartstrings," said Mr. Oroszy, maintenance manager at Norfolk's main post office. "It makes you feel proud to know that you served your country and people really care about that. When I came back from Vietnam, I didn't feel that way."
The stamp became available May 23, but the U.S. Postal Service encourages local debuts, said Christina Birdsong, wellness coordinator at the Postal Service's Norfolk processing and distributing center, who organized yesterday's event.
The Wisconsin, which saw action in World War II, Korea and the Persian Gulf, was one of four Iowa-class battleships, the largest and last built by the Navy.
Decommissioned in 1991, the ship opened to the public April 16 on the downtown waterfront.

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