U.S. postage stamps honor remarkable Americans

The U.S. Postal Service issues a few dozen postage stamps each year. They highlight renowned Americans or some aspect of the American experience. Here are a few of our favorites:

Yogi Berra

Left photo: Yogi Berra stamp (© U.S. Postal Service/AP Images) Right photo: New York Yankees baseball player holding up two balls (© Ray Howard/AP Images)
Left: The Yogi Berra forever stamp. (© U.S. Postal Service/AP Images) Right: New York Yankees catcher Yogi Berra celebrates in 1959 after hitting two home runs in a 7-1 victory over Cleveland in New York. (© Ray Howard/AP Images)

Yogi Berra (1925–2015) was one of the best Major League Baseball players of his era, winning a record 10 World Series titles with his team, the New York Yankees. After retiring in 1963, he began managing and coaching, taking two teams to the World Series as manager — the Yankees in 1964 and the New York Mets in 1973. He was inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1972.

Berra will also always be remembered for his self-contradictory sayings. “Baseball is 90% mental, and the other half is physical,” he once said. Also: “The future ain’t what it used to be.”

Ursula Le Guin

Left photo: Ursula K. Le Guin stamp (U.S. Postal Service) Right photo: Woman standing at lectern (© Robin Marchant/Getty Images)
Left: Ursula K. Le Guin forever stamp. (U.S. Postal Service) Right: Ursula K. Le Guin attends the 2014 National Book Awards. (© Robin Marchant/Getty Images)

Author Ursula Le Guin (1929–2018) expanded readers’ appreciation of science fiction and fantasy. Her interests in mythology, anthropology, feminism and Taoism influenced her to write in a way that defied the conventions of fiction and poetry. (She also wrote nonfiction essays and translated others’ work.)

Le Guin won acclaim in 1968 with A Wizard of Earthsea, a novel about the education of a young wizard on a vast archipelago. The following year, she published The Left Hand of Darkness, an award-winning novel about an Earth diplomat who travels to a wintry planet where two nations teeter on the brink of war — and where the inhabitants have no fixed gender. Fellow author Michael Chabon describes Le Guin as “the greatest American writer of her generation.”

Japanese American soldiers

Left photo: U.S. Army color guard standing with flags (U.S. Army) Right photo: Go for Broke: Japanese American soldiers forever stamp (U.S. Postal Service)
Left: The color guard with the U.S. Army 442nd Regimental Combat Team stands at attention November 12, 1944, while citations are read following the fierce fighting in the Vosges area of France. (U.S. Army) Right: Go for Broke: Japanese American soldiers forever stamp. (U.S. Postal Service)

Based on a photograph, this stamp honors the 33,000 Japanese Americans who served in the U.S. military during World War II. “Go for Broke” was the motto of the second-generation Japanese Americans — known as nisei — who formed the 100th Infantry Battalion/442nd Regimental Combat Team, one of the most distinguished American fighting units during the war.

The Army also turned to nisei to serve as translators, interpreters and interrogators in the Pacific theater. Nearly 1,000 nisei also served in the 1399th Engineer Construction Battalion, and more than 100 nisei women joined the Women’s Army Corps.

Chien-Shiung Wu

Left photo: Woman in lab coat standing with equipment (©Bettmann/Getty Images) Right photo: Chien-Shiung Wu forever stamp (U.S. Postal Service)
Left: Physics professor Chien-Shiung Wu poses in a laboratory at Columbia University in 1958. (©Bettmann/Getty Images) Right: Chien-Shiung Wu forever stamp. (U.S. Postal Service)

Chien-Shiung Wu (1912–1997) was one of the most influential nuclear physicists of the 20th century. During a career that spanned more than 40 years, she became the authority on testing the fundamental theories of physics.

Born in China, Wu earned a Ph.D. in physics at the University of California, Berkeley, in 1940. Later, while teaching at Columbia University, she joined the Manhattan Project, a government initiative that developed the first atomic weapons. She continued with experimental physics and, in one of her most famous experiments, proved that identical nuclear particles do not always act alike.

Becoming a U.S. citizen in 1954, Wu also conducted research on sickle-cell disease and encouraged girls to pursue careers in the sciences.

Katharine Graham

Left photo: Woman holding newspaper with her arms crossed (© AP Images) Right photo: Katharine Graham forever stamp (U.S. Postal Service)
Left: Katharine Graham, publisher of the Washington Post, poses in her office in 1964. (© AP Images) Right: Katharine Graham forever stamp. (U.S. Postal Service)

In 2022, Katharine Graham (1917–2001), a powerful figure in American journalism, will be honored with a stamp. Graham, the first female head of a Fortune 500 company, played a pivotal role during turbulent moments in American history as owner and president of The Washington Post Company, where she was also publisher of its flagship newspaper.

After she took over the Washington Post, it reached new heights with its reporting of the Watergate scandal — a major factor in President Richard Nixon’s resignation in 1974. Graham capped her career at age 80 by winning a 1998 Pulitzer Prize for her memoir, Personal History, winning praise for her candor about her husband’s mental illness and the challenges she faced in a male-dominated workplace.