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Stamp News Release #06-038
June 14, 2006


WASHINGTON, DC — Today, the U.S. Postal Service reissued the stamp honoring former President Ronald Reagan in Simi Valley, CA, at a First-Class postage rate of 39-cents. Reagan’s patriotism, charisma and optimistic confidence rallied the nation and made him one of the most popular Presidents of the 20th century. The Ronald Reagan 37-cent commemorative stamp was issued Feb. 9, 2005. The 39-cent stamp with the same design is available in Simi Valley, CA, today, and will be available nationwide Thurs., June 15.

“I am particularly honored to join you in celebrating the life of a remarkable world leader, a distinguished President and a great man,” said James C. Miller III, Chairman of the presidentially appointed U.S. Postal Service Board of Governors. “Ronald Reagan’s record is proof that one person, determined and dedicated, can shoulder the greatest of burdens and carry them through to victory, and in his case, even make it look easy,” added Miller, who served as Reagan’s Director of the Office of Management and Budget and later, chairman of the Federal Trade Commission.

Joining Chairman Miller in dedicating the stamp was Duke Blackwood, Executive Director, The Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and Kerry Wolny, District Manager, Van Nuys District, U.S. Postal Service.

“Re-issuing a commemorative U.S. Presidential stamp in a higher denomination is a very rare occurrence,” said Blackwood. “Mrs. Reagan is touched that the U.S. Postal Service is honoring her husband in this manner.”

Ronald Wilson Reagan was born in Tampico, IL, on Feb. 6, 1911, but he considered Dixon, IL, where the family settled when he was nine, to be his hometown. A natural athlete and budding thespian, Reagan lettered in several sports and acted in school plays throughout his high school and college years. Popular with his classmates, he was elected student body president in both high school and college.

In 1926, Reagan became a summer lifeguard in Lowell Park, IL, located on the Rock River near Dixon, and is credited with rescuing 77 people during the seven seasons he worked there. After graduating from Eureka College in 1932, he sought employment as a radio sports announcer. Just a few years later he was one of the leading announcers in the Midwest, broadcasting from an NBC affiliate station in Des Moines, IA.

In 1937, Reagan went to California to cover the Chicago Cubs during spring training and landed a movie contract with Warner Bros. During his years in Hollywood he appeared in more than 50 films, including the acclaimed All American (1940), in which he played Notre Dame football legend George “the Gipper” Gipp.

Reagan was called up for active duty during World War II, but poor eyesight kept him from serving overseas. Instead he was assigned to the army’s motion picture unit in Culver City, CA, where he narrated training films and appeared in patriotic military films. After being honorably discharged on Dec. 9, 1945, he resumed his Hollywood career. In 1957, Reagan costarred with his wife, actress Nancy Davis (whom he had married in 1952), in Hellcats of the Navy, their only film together.

Elected president of the Screen Actors Guild (SAG) in 1947, an office he held through 1952, and again from 1959 – 1960, Reagan testified in that capacity before the House Committee on Un-American Activities.

On Oct. 27, 1964, Reagan gave a nationally televised address endorsing Republican presidential candidate Barry Goldwater. Although Goldwater lost the election to Lyndon B. Johnson, Reagan’s speech, a searing indictment of big government and Johnson’s “Great Society” programs, thrust him into the limelight as a leader of the conservative movement and effectively launched his political career. Two years later he defeated the incumbent governor of California, Democrat Edmund G. "Pat" Brown, by a landslide. In 1970 he was elected to a second term in office.

In 1968, while still governor of California, Reagan made a tentative bid for President, announcing his candidacy at the Republican National Convention in Miami Beach. Eight years later he waged an active campaign, and although he lost the 1976 Republican nomination to incumbent Gerald R. Ford, his strong showing in the primaries and at the convention in Kansas City set the stage for his next presidential run.

Pledging to reduce the federal government’s role in the lives of all Americans, Reagan was the frontrunner during the 1980 presidential primaries. He received the Republican nomination at the convention in Detroit and won a landslide victory over incumbent Jimmy Carter in the November election. On Jan. 20, 1981, he was sworn into office as the 40th President of the United States. That same month TIME magazine named him its 1980 “Man of the Year.”

Adept at promoting his conservative agenda and deregulation policies, Reagan became known as the “Great Communicator.” He persuaded Congress to pass legislation aimed at curbing inflation, increasing employment, reducing social welfare programs and strengthening national defense. The popular and charismatic President had succeeded in rallying Americans and inspiring their renewed confidence in the nation. In 1984 he was reelected by another landslide, receiving an unprecedented number of electoral votes.

"Peace through strength” is how Reagan characterized his foreign policy toward the Soviet Union and to that end he promoted and obtained a massive defense budget. But in 1984 he also began to make diplomatic overtures to Moscow. The following year Mikhail S. Gorbachev rose to power. Gorbachev’s willingness to end the Cold War by arms reduction and political reform in Eastern Europe brought Reagan to the bargaining table. Working together to improve relations between the two countries, Reagan and Gorbachev held a series of summit conferences during the next few years. At the 1987 summit in Washington, DC, they signed the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, the first pact to reduce nuclear arsenals. Strategic arms were limited in a later treaty. By the end of his second term, Reagan had visited Moscow and regarded Gorbachev as a friend.

When Reagan left office in January 1989, he and former First Lady Nancy Reagan returned to California. Later that year, on November 9, Communist East Germany opened its borders, including the Berlin Wall, to the West. This momentous event occurred less than two and a half years after Reagan’s famous speech at the Brandenburg Gate, in which he had boldly challenged Gorbachev to, “tear down this wall!”

In California, Reagan worked on his second autobiography, published in 1990. But his highest priority was to oversee completion of the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and Museum in Simi Valley. A tribute to Reagan’s legacy of peace, freedom and democracy, the facility has welcomed more than a million visitors since it opened in 1991.

In 1994, Reagan shared his diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease with the American people in a moving, handwritten letter. After that he retired from public life and his family delivered periodic updates to the nation and helped raise awareness of Alzheimer’s.

On June 5, 2004, Ronald Reagan died in California at the age of 93, the longest-lived President in American history. His state funeral, the first to be held in Washington, D.C., in more than 30 years, drew hundreds of thousands of mourners, including past and present world leaders. After the national funeral service at the Washington National Cathedral on June 11, his body was flown back to California where a private burial service took place at sunset on the grounds of the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and Museum.

The stamp art is a portrait of Reagan painted by award-winning artist Michael J. Deas, whose many projects for the Postal Service include several stamps in the Legends of Hollywood series and the Literary Arts series. The portrait is based on a 1981 photograph of Reagan made by White House photographer Jack Kightlinger.

How to Order First-Day-of-Issue Postmark

Customers have 30 days to obtain the first-day of issue postmark by mail. They may purchase new stamps at their local Post Office, by telephone at 800-STAMP-24, and at the Postal Store Web site at www.usps.com/shop. They should affix the stamps to envelopes of their choice, address the envelopes (to themselves or others), and place them in a larger envelope addressed to:

SIMI VALLEY CA 93065-9998
After applying the first day of issue postmark, the Postal Service will return the envelopes through the mail. There is no charge for the postmark. All orders must be postmarked by July 13, 2006.

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