Forever Stamp Commemorates Former First Lady

Wildflower Center Hosted Unveiling of New Lady Bird Stamp

 

The U.S. Postal Service commemorated the centennial birth year of Lady Bird Johnson by unveiling a Forever Stamp in her honor Nov. 30 at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center of The University of Texas at Austin.

A dedication ceremony that was open to the public took place at 11 a.m. that Friday indoors at the Wildflower Center. The center is at 4801 La Crosse Ave. in southwest Austin.

The new Forever Stamp honoring Mrs. Johnson — who was married to the late President Lyndon B. Johnson — features her official White House portrait. Lady Bird Johnson was also known as the Environmental First Lady, and the souvenir sheet also includes artwork of five stamps originally issued in the 1960s to encourage planting flowers. The souvenir sheets are being sold by the Postal Service starting Nov. 22 in Texas and in the Washington D.C. area, with future sales expected nationally in December.

“Lady Bird Johnson was an environmentalist before the term became part of the American lexicon,” said Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe. “She championed the Highway Beautification Act of 1965, often referred to as “Lady Bird’s Bill,” and remained committed to highway beautification after leaving the White House, supporting legislation that allocated federal funds for landscaping projects using native plants, flowers, and trees along the nation’s highways.”

Among those who wrote in support of a Lady Bird Johnson stamp were six first ladies, Thurgood Marshall Jr., chairman of the Postal Service Board of Governors, and Shirley James, the former executive assistant to Mrs. Johnson.

James spearheaded a letter-writing campaign for the stamp in honor of the 36th First Lady. It will be the sixth stamp of a former First Lady, with the most recent being of Eleanor Roosevelt. “Mrs. J deserves a stamp,” James says. “We associate her with ‘beautification’ and she made her mark on the American people with her great love for the environment.”

The five Beautification of America stamps are on the left side of the souvenir sheet of six stamps. A single vertical Lady Bird Johnson stamp is in the lower right corner, and is based on an oil painting by Elizabeth Shoumatoff that was the White House portrait of Mrs. Johnson . All are nondenominated Forever Stamps that were sold as a souvenir sheet at the Nov. 30. dedication.

In 1992, Lady Bird Johnson helped the U.S. Postal Service unveil 50 stamps of wildflowers at a Columbus, Ohio dedication. The stamps’ artist, Karen Mallary, had used the book “Wildflowers Across America” that was co-authored by Mrs. Johnson as part of developing the stamp images. Experts from the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, then known as the National Wildflower Research Center, helped select the final list of native wildflowers used on the 50 stamps.

To learn more about the Lady Bird stamp writing campaign and the former First Ladies with stamps, go to: http:// www.wildflower.org/feature/?id=101.

To learn more about the 1992 wildflower stamps, visit: http://www.unicover.com/OPUBACK9.HTM#sect3.