WASHINGTON — During World War II, Americans of all ages shelled out dimes and dollars for the war effort.
In recent days, with Memorial Day approaching, a bipartisan group of lawmakers was seeking to fire up that patriotic spirit with the Victory for Veterans Stamp Act. The act would provide for the sale of a 21-cent stamp to generate money for veterans programs, paying down the national debt and propping up the U.S. Postal Service.
The stamp could not be used for postage, even though it would be offered for sale by the postal service. Rep. John B. Larson (D-Conn.), the bill’s chief sponsor, said the stamp would be a way for Americans to show their patriotism and support for the troops.
“Over a decade after 9/11, we know that the people of this country still possess a deep reservoir of patriotism and a collective desire to solve our greatest challenges,’’ Larson said in a letter to colleagues seeking their support for the measure. “They just need to be asked.’’
Larson came up with the idea for the stamp while going through letters his parents sent to each other during World War II.
“I couldn’t help but notice a unique ‘victory’ stamp that was used at the time as a means to help support the war effort,’’ he said, referring to a 3-cent violet “Win the War” stamp featuring the American eagle with wings spread in a V, encircled by 13 stars.
That stamp was used for postage, but post offices sold war savings stamps for as little as a dime to support the war effort.
Larson said the new stamp could spur school campaigns to write troops. It could be attached to the envelopes, in addition to the postage.
Larson suggested World War II-era artwork as a design for the stamp -- artwork taken from the first-day-of-issue envelope for the Win the War stamp. It features an eagle inside a V, with American flags and the word victory.
His proposal calls for splitting the 21 cents from every stamp evenly among veterans employment and training programs, the debt reduction effort and support for the postal service, which an aide noted employs a large number of veterans.
Over the years, Congress has authorized various semipostal stamps, which sell for more than their face value to raise money for causes.
Most well-known may be the now-55-cent breast cancer stamp, authorized in 1997, which has generated more than $75 million for breast cancer research. National wildlife refuges and the Peace Corps have also been the focus of bills to create such stamps, but in recent years the House has left it to the postal service to decide on new semipostals.
So far, the victory stamp measure has drawn more than 100 cosponsors in the House.