- The Washington Times - Monday, December 13, 2010

If it was “morning in America” for former President Ronald Reagan, a commemorative postage stamp due in February to mark the Gipper’s birth centennial will forever view the sunrise.

The commemorative stamp, whose design was unveiled Monday at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, Calif., will always be valid for a 1-ounce first-class letter, the U.S. Postal Service confirmed. It will be released officially at the library on Feb. 10, four days after the 100th anniversary of Reagan’s birth.

Texas artist Bart Forbes created the portrait, based on a 1985 photograph of Reagan taken at Rancho del Cielo, near Santa Barbara, Calif.

The design was first published in Linn’s Stamp News, a hobbyist publication. Earlier this year, Linn’s broke the news that a Reagan centennial postage stamp would be released.

Although the preliminary design shows a 44-cent value, the postal agency recently announced that all commemorative, or special, issues would be inscribed with “Forever,” instead of a face value, meaning they would sell for the current first-class rate but would remain valid for first-class mail even when rates increase.

A Postal Service spokesman, who asked not to be identified by name, said a revised version showing the “Forever” inscription will be released Dec. 28.

“To honor him with another stamp is a testament to what the American people feel about President Reagan,” said Melissa Giller, director of communications and programs at the Reagan library. She said the stamp is one “many people will want to keep forever.”

Ms. Giller recalled that when the first Reagan commemorative was issued, in February 2005, “we had very long lines at the library and a lot of people were excited to purchase the stamp.”

John Heubusch, executive director of the Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation, credited James C. Miller III, a member of the Postal Service Board of Governors who also was Reagan’s budget director, with getting the stamp issued.

“Jim Miller made it happen,” Mr. Heubusch said in a telephone interview. “This stamp is a testimony to Jim’s hard work.”

Reagan’s presidency was marked by a return to American optimism, as the 40th chief executive exuded confidence in the United States, its people and their ability to surmount challenges. That attitude was encapsulated in “Morning in America,” a 1984 Reagan-Bush re-election television advertisement that continues to attract notice.

Mr. Forbes, whose artwork adorns the Gulfstream jet flown by Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, has designed more than 20 special issues for the U.S. Postal Service, including stamps for the 1988 Olympics and commemoratives honoring Lou Gehrig and Jesse Owens. He also has illustrated covers for Time and Sports Illustrated magazines.

Ms. Giller said centennial celebrations to honor Reagan have national scope.

The Reagan library is releasing a curriculum for high school and college classes on the former president’s life and legacy. Included in the package will be a commemorative coin that is not in circulation and that the library will provide for use at “every home game” during a yet-to-be-announced weekend in September.

For the first time in the history of the event, Ms. Giller added, the Tournament of Roses Parade, held Jan. 1 in Pasadena, Calif., will feature a Reagan float, sponsored, appropriately enough, by the Jelly Belly Candy Co., which makes jelly beans that Reagan was known for enjoying. A listing of national Reagan centennial events is available at www.reagancentennial.com.

• Mark A. Kellner can be reached at mkellner@washingtontimes.com.

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