WASHINGTON – President Reagan's (search) famous smile and blue eyes shine from a new postage stamp issued Wednesday in ceremonies across the country. It's the latest in an already high stack of honors bestowed on the former president since his death eight months ago.
The new stamp shows Reagan's smile, tilt of head and twinkle of eye in a way that captures the "warmth, personality and humanity of Ronald Reagan," James Miller, chairman of the Postal Service board of governors, told a crowd of about 200 at an unveiling ceremony at the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center (search).
The celebrants were shown a video tribute to the former president that noted he wrote more than 10,000 letters during his lifetime. Lee Greenwood (search) sang the national anthem and his hit "Proud to be an American" and Crystal Gayle sang a medley of patriotic songs.
The official first-day-of-issue site for the commemorative stamp was at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and Museum in Simi Valley, Calif.
But, while a single site suffices for most new stamps, official ceremonies were also being held at the California state Capitol in Sacramento and in Dixon, Ill., childhood home of the 40th president, as well as at the Reagan building in Washington. Stamp dedication events were also taking place in Florida, Missouri, Montana and Texas.
The post office has 170 million of the new 37-cent stamps on hand and is also offering a series of Reagan collectables.
Miller, who served as head of the Office of Management and Budget under Reagan, recalled the former president as a down-to-earth man who could help others break the tension.
Once, when Congress and the president couldn't agree on a budget and the government was faced with a shutdown, Miller said, "he turned to me, put his hand on my shoulder, and said, 'Jim, Jim, just settle down. Let's close 'er down and see if anybody notices."'
Joining Miller and Postmaster General John Potter for the dedication were Edwin Meese III, Reagan's senior adviser and later attorney general; Sen. Ted Stevens, R-Alaska; Rep. Danny K. Davis, D-Ill.; Frederick J. Ryan, chairman of the Ronald Reagan Foundation, and Kenneth M. Duberstein, who served as Reagan's last chief of staff.
As an ex-president, Reagan became eligible for a commemorative stamp in the year following his death. Postal Service policy restricts stamps honoring people other than presidents to those who have been dead at least 10 years.
In addition to the commemorative stamp the post office is offering collectibles for sale at its Internet site — http://www.usps.com — and some post offices. These items include:
— An 11-by-14 inch numbered print of the stamp image autographed by artist Michael Deas for $149.99.
— A 7-by-10 inch plaque of the stamp for $24.95.
— A 6 3/8-by-7 9/16 inch Keepsake Folio set that commemorates Reagan's life through photographs for $12.95.