WASHINGTON, DC — Postmaster General John E. Potter previewed images of the stamps that will immortalize five journalists who risked their lives reporting some of the most important events of the 20th Century at the 2007 Associated Press Managing Editors (APME) meeting today.
The five “American Journalists” stamps honor Martha Gellhorn, John Hersey, George Polk, Ruben Salazar and Eric Sevareid. The stamps will be available for purchase nationwide next spring. The yet to be determined date of the first-day-of-issue dedication ceremony will take place at the National Press Club in Washington, DC, as part of activities to highlight the Press Club’s 100th anniversary.
“These distinguished journalists risked their lives to record the events that shaped the modern world,” said Potter. “Their body of work stands as a towering monument to the importance of a free press. It is our hope that Americans will use these stamps to honor these outstanding individuals who have served the cause of journalism so well.”
“These five individuals all rightly take their place on the wall of honor of American journalism for their courage and bravery in getting the story out, even amid the most dangerous of conditions,” said APME President Karen Magnuson, who assisted Potter in unveiling the stamp images. “We applaud the Postal Service for recognizing their contributions, and sacrifices, to society on behalf of a free press.”
Working in radio, television or print, these distinguished journalists filed stories from hot spots at home and abroad, bringing back reports of conflicts and issues that helped Americans better understand some of the world’s most tumultuous events.
Martha Gellhorn (1908–1998) covered the Spanish Civil War, World War II and the Vietnam War in a long career that broke new ground for women. With her constant focus on harm to civilians, her reporting was considered a morally courageous model. During World War II, she stowed away on a hospital ship in the D-Day fleet and went ashore as a stretcher bearer. In addition to writing numerous novels, her work appeared in Collier’s, Atlantic Monthly and the Guardian. She was married to Ernest Hemingway.
John Hersey (1914–1993) was a versatile writer whose most famous work, Hiroshima, describes what happened when the U.S. dropped an atomic bomb on the Japanese city. It has been acclaimed as the greatest work of journalism of the 20th century. His work has also appeared in Time, Life and The New Yorker.
George Polk (1913–1948) was a talented young CBS radio correspondent who filed hard-hitting radio bulletins from Greece describing the strife that erupted there after World War II. He was working on reports of corruption involving U.S. aid when he disappeared. His body was found a week later. The exact circumstances of his death remain a mystery.
Ruben Salazar, from the Los Angeles Times Photographic Archive (Collection 1429), Department of Special Collections, Charles E. Young Research Library, UCLA
Ruben Salazar (1928–1970) was the first Mexican-American journalist to have a major voice in mainstream news media. His writings in the Los Angeles Times and segments at KMEX-TV on the Chicano movement of the 1960s added richly to the historical record. While in Los Angeles covering a Vietnam War protest Salazar was shot in the head and killed by a tear gas projectile fired by a deputy sheriff.
Eric Sevareid (1912–1992) was a writer for the New York Herald Tribune and later a broadcast journalist for CBS radio recruited by Edward R. Murrow. He covered World War II, reporting on the approach of the Germans to Paris, the exodus from the city and on life in London during wartime. In 1943, en route to China, Sevareid parachuted from a disabled plane and emerged from the jungle on foot some time later. His later television commentaries in the 1960s and 1970s on the CBS Evening News were widely admired.
Other journalists who have been commemorated on stamps include: Edward R. Murrow, Ernie Pyle, Walter Lippman, Henry Luce, Nellie Bly, Ida M. Tarbell, Ethel L. Payne, Margueritte Higgins and publisher Adolph S. Ochs.
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