New postage stamp created in honor of veterans

The Purple Heart Forever stamp is now available at local post offices.
Purple Heart recipient Alex Waigandt speaks at the U.S. Postal Service Purple Heart Forever stamp unveiling ceremony Friday at Memorial Union. This was a part of MU's series of events to celebrate Veterans Day.

Friday was the day to honor the sacrifices veterans have made to keep America free. That honor can now be seen at the post office with the new “Purple Heart Forever” stamp, which was formally presented in Stotler Lounge in Memorial Student Union at 1 p.m.

“We have created a lasting tribute to the many brave members of our armed forces,” Columbia Post Office Postmaster Pamela Davis said.

The stamp was initially released by the USPS on May 5 and has spread throughout the nation.

“Through this postage stamp, we have created a lasting tribute to the many brave members of the armed forces who have served our country,” Deputy Postmaster General Ronald Stroman said in a news release following the stamp’s initial release. “We are proud to share their legacy with America and the world, as we deliver our nation’s mail.”

Davis called it an honor to represent the USPS in presenting the stamp and spoke of the purpose she hopes the stamp will fulfill.

“We have created a lasting tribute to the many brave members of our armed forces,” Davis said.

Davis encouraged students and community residents to use the stamps frequently.

“Using this stamp gives recognition to our veterans, and by mailing it all across the U.S., you are in a small way recognizing all the sacrifices that veterans make,” Davis said.

Alex Waigandt, Purple Heart recipient and current associate professor of education at MU, spoke of the special place the Purple Heart holds in military honors.

“The Purple Heart is the oldest and most recognized military award,” Waigandt said.

Waigandt himself earned three purple hearts for his service on the battlefield in Vietnam during his tenure as a marine. After his service in the marines, Waigandt came to MU for both his bachelors and masters degrees.

He said that since its inception, 1,910,162 purple hearts have been awarded, all with a special purpose.

“The Purple Heart is a symbol of their dedication, spirit, and sacrifice,” Waigandt said.

The ceremony also included a speech by MU graduate Ron Powers, author of The New York Times bestseller “Flags of our Fathers.”

Powers’ book tells the story of the mothers of the six American soldiers famously depicted raising the American flag during the Battle of Iwo Jima.

Powers initially set out to bring the extraordinary valor these men showed back to the forefront of American thinking, but he unexpectedly felt an urge to instead honor the mothers of those men.

“These six ordinary women came to symbolize for me all mothers who had sons die in battle,” Powers said.

Powers reflected on how so many of these women, who courageously allowed their sons to go off to war, would never again see their sons as they were before fighting.

“We hope that your sense of loss will always be tempered by the fact that your sons will live on in the gratitude of our country,” Powers said.

MSA President Eric Woods ended the ceremony by thanking everyone who helped with the week of events and to remind the audience to appreciate the veteran community at MU.

“We truly have a unique, vibrant, passionate veteran’s community at this university,” Woods said.

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