We’re saying thank you to the Postal Service for all they do! Since before America claimed independence, there’s been a form of postal service. Today, they’re more essential than ever.
It’s been more than two centuries since Benjamin Franklin was appointed the first Postmaster General in 1775. By 1896, people in rural areas received free delivery, which today, we have generally taken for granted until recently.
Notably, more than 200 federal laws protect the sanctity of the U.S. Mail. Further, the laws are enforced by one of the oldest law enforcement agencies, the U.S. Postal Inspection Service. The USPS shaped how our country came to be in many ways. (see video below)
In 1847, Congress authorized United States postage stamps, and one featured Franklin. They were five cents and had to be cut apart with scissors. Another ten-cent-stamp featured George Washington, who appears on more stamps than anyone in history.
George Washington, first president of the U.S. and famed Revolutionary War general, was born #OTD in 1732. Washington (as well as Benjamin Franklin) appeared on the first U.S. postage stamps ever issued in 1847. https://t.co/Tgejn9eFdK #POTUS pic.twitter.com/QHXe4EG3JI
— Postal Museum (@PostalMuseum) February 22, 2020
Today, anybody can send a letter for 55 cents to anybody in the United States. Incredibly, the USPS is the only organization that delivers to every residential and business address in the country.
The Postal Service Guiding Principle
Today, the United States Postal Service states the service is rooted in one single, great principle:
“The history of the United States Postal Service is rooted in a single, great principle: that every person in the United States – no matter who, no matter where – has the right to equal access to secure, efficient, and affordable mail service.”
The USPS Mission Statement
The USPS is an independent establishment of the Executive Branch of the Government of the United States. As such, it operates in a business-like way but is written into the U.S. Code in Title 39, the Postal Reorganization Act.
The USPS mission statement, as written in Section 101(a) of Title 39:
“The Postal Service shall have as its basic function the obligation to provide postal services to bind the Nation together through the personal, educational, literary, and business correspondence of the people. It shall provide prompt, reliable, and efficient services to patrons in all areas and shall render postal services to all communities.”
Below, see a vintage instructional film called “The Mailman” from 1946:
Postal Service Unofficial Motto
The famous unofficial motto is still commonly used today, dedicated to mail carriers’ heroic daily efforts serving Americans.
Though not official, the motto is chiseled into the granite over the entrance to the New York City Post Office on 8th Avenue. (Now the James A. Farley Building) The words come from Greek historian Herodotus in The Persian Wars. As far back as 500 B.C., the Persians had reliable mounted postal couriers.
“Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds.”
Mailman N. Sorenson poses with his heavy load of Christmas mail and parcels, Chicago, 1929. pic.twitter.com/RSU5fSSTkG
— History In Pictures (@HistoryInPics) November 8, 2017
The USPS: Looking Out for Americans
Today, the Postal Service is delivering in the face of the Covid-19 pandemic, hurricanes, earthquakes, snowstorms, and wildfires. As they carry out their duties, they keep an eye out for communities.
For example, last week, mailman Fernando Garcia ran to help a man cut by a chainsaw in California. Garcia sprang into action and used his belt as a tourniquet, saving a Norwalk resident.
“I was a little panicky but at the end of the day…did what anybody else would have done, which was to try to stop the bleeding,” Garcia said. “I was just fortunate to be there, to help him out.”
EVERY DAY HERO-A male accidently cut himself w/a chainsaw. Luckily Mail Carrier Mr. Garcia heard the family's screams & sprung into action using his belt as a tourniquet 2 stop the bleeding on the man's arm. Man has good prognosis due 2 Mr. Garcia's actions. pic.twitter.com/mzO7AzY9No
— LASD Norwalk Station (@NorwalkLASD) October 9, 2020
A Quote from the Former Washington D.C. Post Office
You’ll find a lesser-known inscription carved into white granite at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Postal Museum. Before it became the museum, it was the D.C. Post Office.
It’s a beautiful tribute to mail carriers written by Dr. Charles W. Eliot, former president of Harvard University. Originally entitled “The Letter,” it was edited by President Woodrow Wilson before the version below was carved into the Post Office:
“Messenger of Sympathy and Love
Servant of Parted Friends
Consoler of the Lonely
Bond of the Scattered Family
Enlarger of the Common Life
Carrier of News and Knowledge
Instrument of Trade and Industry
Promoter of Mutual Acquaintance
Of Peace and of Goodwill Among Men and Nations.”
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Thank You to Our Mail Carriers!
Today, receiving the mail has never been more important as we get through a pandemic. Postal workers are links to the world during the pandemic, delivering more packages than ever.
To thank USPS employees for putting their lives on the line for us every day, one might be tempted to give them money. However, mail carriers must comply with the Standards of Ethical Conduct for Employees of the Executive Branch. Thus, they may not accept tips or gifts worth greater than $20 and o gifts worth more than $50 from a customer per year.
Ideas to Say Thank You
Another idea is to send a letter to USPS’s Office of Inspector General to share appreciation and kind reflections about your mail carrier.
Since the USPS relies on postage sale, not tax dollars, it’s always a great idea to buy stamps. Notably, you can buy stamps at the post office’s website without leaving the house. Also, you can buy stamps from many retailers, grocery stores, pharmacies, and some banks.
Below, the USPS shared a video thanking Americans for the many “Thank You’s” they’ve been seeing lately.
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Watch “How the Post Office Made America” by Wendover Productions below:
Featured image: Screenshot via YouTube