What Have You Done for Philately?

Knoxville is full of streets named after living people. There are several roads named after athletes on the University of Tennessee campus. Many of those athletes are younger than me. I believe that the University will never regret their decision to name a street Peyton Manning Pass. Manning has continued to lead an exemplary life in Indianapolis while maintaining ties in Knoxville.

When I first moved here from California, I wondered what would have happened if USC had named a street after Heisman Trophy winner O.J. Simpson. It would have seemed like a good idea at the time. In 2003, St. Mary’s Parish in Oak Ridge removed Bishop Anthony O’Connell’s name from a building after he admitted to sexual misconduct in the 1970s.

The U.S. Postal Service used to have a rule that only people who have been dead for ten years could be on a stamp. Former presidents got a stamp within a year of their death. A few years back, the postal service shortened the time to five years. They have now decided to drop the waiting period and honor living people on stamps.

So who will be the first living person on a stamp? Fans of 25-year-old Lady Gaga have flocked to Twitter to nominate her. I’ve also seen suggestions for 80-year-old Regis Philbin and 89-year-old Betty White. The stamp should be thought of as a lifetime achievement award. Gaga is still too young for the honor. Regis and Betty are safe bets at this point.

I’ve been asked to do whatever I can to help get a stamp for 83-year-old Dr. Bill Bass. He is a living legend in the fields of forensics and osteology. As one of the comments on Facebook put it: “The world is a safer place because of Dr. Bill Bass. He is a national treasure!” I’ve known Dr. Bass for nine years and can wholeheartedly endorse his character. The praise bestowed upon him at the dedication ceremony for the building named after him made it all the more obvious that he is deserving of a stamp too.

The postal service says the public can suggest potential honorees by several methods. I’ve already started via Facebook and Twitter. Perhaps I could make more of an impact by sending a message in a manner that most others won’t: first-class mail.

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