Huffpost Fifty

U.S. Postage Stamps To Honor Living People (PHOTOS)

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By HOPE YEN and STACY A. ANDERSON
Associated Press

WASHINGTON — Who would you put on a stamp? Charlie Sheen? Lady Gaga? Yourself?

Hoping to boost sagging revenue, the U.S. Postal Service on Monday abandoned its longstanding rule that stamps cannot feature people who are still alive and is asking the public for suggestions.

It's a first that means living sports stars, writers, artists and other prominent – or not-so-prominent – people could take their places in postal history next to the likes of George Washington, Martin Luther King Jr., and Marilyn Monroe.

"This change will enable us to pay tribute to individuals for their achievements while they are still alive to enjoy the honor," said Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe.

But it seems to be at least as much about money as admiration.

Here are some post-50 icons who could get HuffPost's stamp of approval. Who's the most worthy? (AP story continues below.)

Postage Stamp Candidates
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For years, the post office has been facing severe financial problems due to the growing use of email. A burst of interest in stamp design and collecting – which the Postal Service is seeking to promote partly through social media – could bring in new dollars, since stamps that are collected rather than used for postage provide added revenue.

Poking fun at the Postal Service's money woes, Comedian Stephen Colbert has been pushing to become the first living person depicted on a government-issued stamp. His Comedy Central website proposes a "Farewell to Postage" stamp with a photo of him holding up a smartphone that shows an email telling the Postal Service "See Ya!"

Judging by initial public reaction in interviews Monday, Colbert faces competition.

Cyndi Scarlett, 54, of Alexandria, Va., who works in humanitarian development, touted her choice of Apple Inc. founder Steve Jobs to be the first living person on a stamp. Walking by a post office in downtown Washington, D.C., she cited his company's role in reshaping everyday life, from the ubiquitous Macintosh and iPod to the iPad.

"He has changed the face of technology in America," Scarlett said.

Elizabeth Saunders, 38, a former educator who lives in Washington, said she believe first lady Michelle Obama deserves the honor, pointing to her efforts in combating childhood obesity. Saunders said she was impressed when she recently saw the first lady on the TV show, "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition," building a house for a military family.

"She's just not afraid to get her hands dirty," Saunders said.

But Justin Pierce, a 29-year-old consultant from Arlington, Va., had a TV personality in mind for the first stamp: actor Charlie Sheen, who was fired from the show "Two and a Half Men" last season. "He's an American icon," Pierce said.

Other suggestions included evangelist Billy Graham, President Barack Obama, Gen. Norman Schwarzkopf, actress Tyra Banks and Paralympic athlete Bonnie St. John.

Janice Myles, a paralegal from Washington, said her pick would be someone who epitomizes the everyday American – herself. "I'm spiritual, I have no criminal record. My only downfall is that I don't speak different languages. I don't judge people; I look at the facts," she said.

Since Jan. 1, 2007, the Postal Service has required that a person be deceased five years before appearing on a stamp. Before that, the rule was 10 years. Still, former presidents were remembered on stamps in the year following their deaths by tradition. And, more recently, people have been able to upload photos and design their own stamps for personal use through the U.S. mail.

The post office is inviting suggestions for new stamps through Facebook, Twitter, a Postal Service website and by mail to the Citizens' Stamp Advisory Committee, c/o Stamp Development, Room 3300, 475 L'Enfant Plaza SW, Washington, DC 20260-3501.

The advisory committee already receives as many as 40,000 suggestions for new stamps each year and culls them to about 50 finalists, which are sent to the postmaster general for a final decision.

People can view upcoming stamps on Facebook at facebook.com/USPSStamps, through Twitter(at)USPSstamps or on the website beyondtheperf.com/2012-preview. Beyond the Perf is the Postal Service's online site for upcoming stamp subjects, first-day-of-issue events and other philatelic news.

___

Associated Press writer Randolph E. Schmid contributed to this report.

Since Jan. 1, 2007, the requirement has been that a person must have been deceased five years before appearing on a stamp. Before that, the rule was 10 years. (By tradition, though, former presidents are remembered on a stamp in the year following their deaths.).

The post office announced that it will consider stamps for acclaimed American musicians, sports stars, writers, artists and other nationally known figures.

"This change will enable us to pay tribute to individuals for their achievements while they are still alive to enjoy the honor," Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe said in a statement.

Stamp Services manager Stephen Kearney said, "Engaging the public to offer their ideas is an innovative way to expand interest in stamps and the popular hobby of collecting them."

They are inviting suggestions through Facebook, Twitter, a postal service website and, of course, by mail to the Citizens' Stamp Advisory Committee, c/o Stamp Development, Room 3300, 475 L'Enfant Plaza SW, Washington DC 20260-3501.

The advisory committee receives as many as 40,000 suggestions for new stamps each year and culls them down to about 50 finalists, which are sent to the postmaster general for a final decision.

The post office has been facing severe financial problems and increasing in interest in stamp collecting could help boost income, since stamps that are collected rather than used for postage provide an added source of income.

People can view upcoming stamps on Facebook at facebook.com/USPSStamps, through Twitter(at)USPSstamps or on the website beyondtheperf.com/2012-preview. Beyond the Perf is the Postal Service's online site for upcoming stamp subjects, first-day-of-issue events and other philatelic news.

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