If you’re a stamp collector like I am, you’re familiar with the terms commemorative and definitive. Commemorative stamps are typically limited issue, and typically honor or celebrate a certain theme, individual, event or object. Definitive stamps are the ones issued for everyday use, and typically have much more common objects, like the US Flag. When I was younger, I was a an avid stamp collector and sought out commemorative stamps, wherever and whenever possible. I loved the trips to the United Nations building, where I could buy unique commemorative UN stamps, ones I didn’t see on a typical days mail.
Stamps with Asian themes though were always rare, unless of course they were from an Asian nation. So, I sought out US stamp issues with an Asian theme the same way I looked for ones that were Disney-themed and Astronaut-themed, a couple of my other favorite topics. It turns out Asian themed US stamps were much rarer than I imagined as a child. The US only produced 43 Asian themed stamps since 1957 and almost half of these were to celebrate Chinese New Year.
This week, I was pleased to learn that Asian American members of the US Congress last month appealed for the Postal Service to issue more stamps depicting the Asian American community, using the argument that Asians have been under-represented in stamp issues from the US.
In a letter to the Postal committee, the Asian American members of Congress came up with some suggested potential honorees including the Chinese who built the Transcontinental Railroad, Japanese Americans interned during World War II, and also individuals such as Chinese American film star Anna May Wong and Indian-born Dalip Singh Saund, who was elected in 1956 as the first Asian American member of Congress.
“Stamps are like history teachers, educating us on significant, and often omitted, social, cultural and political occurrences in America’s past,” said Representative Mike Honda, a Democrat from California and head of the Asian Pacific American caucus. The issuance of more Asian American stamps is “a necessary next step in mainstreaming a minority group that remains marginalized from the postal service’s primary platform for remembering America’s history,” he said.
I figure if the Simpsons can be honored on US stamps, then I don’t see why we can’t have the Monkey King, Pigsy and Sandy on a US stamp (but of course we’d be following Canada’s lead, since they already put the Monkey King on a stamp!)