Alabama legislators recently stepped back in time to celebrate the state’s 200th birthday in a “forever” way.
The U.S. Postal Service, with 75 legislators and community leaders, unveiled the Alabama Statehood Forever Stamp Feb. 24 in Huntsville – the “place where it all began.” The bicentennial event, which was the highlight of the Alabama200 ceremony at the EarlyWorks Children’s Museum, commemorated Alabama’s entry as the 22nd state in the union. Forever stamps are used to mail a 1-ounce letter regardless of when the stamps are purchased and no matter how prices may change in the future.
“Since becoming America’s 22nd state on Dec. 14, 1819, Alabama has built a rich history grounded in the diversity, tradition and hard work of its people, and the natural beauty and wonderment of its land,” said USPS Acting Chief Human Resources Officer Isaac Cronkhite, who officially dedicated the stamp. “Alabama has been pivotal in the growth of our nation to constantly strive to be a more perfect union.”
The stamp features Alabama photographer Joe Miller’s portrait of a sunset over Cheaha State Park – Alabama’s highest point. The centerpiece of the photo is the park’s Pulpit Rock.
Huntsville is the perfect place to celebrate the bicentennial stamp dedication, said Alabama Speaker of the House Mac McCutcheon.
“It was what happened at this spot 200 years ago that helped bring the state of Alabama into existence,” McCutcheon said. “As a lawmaker, you hope to shape a better future for the people you represent. What was done here did that. It created not just the state of Alabama, but a great future that continues and that we continue to celebrate.”
Huntsville hosted the state’s first Constitutional Convention. There, 44 delegates from the original 22 counties wrote and signed Alabama’s 1819 Constitution. Later that year, on Dec. 14, Alabama became the 22nd state.
As part of the dedication ceremony and to honor the state’s birth, the legislators re-enacted the signing of the constitution. McCutcheon and House Clerk Jeff Woodard presided over the historic roll call. Then, the legislators, each representing the county in which they would have served 200 years ago, signed the parchment-paper document with a quill pen, just as they would have in 1819.
Alabama has played an important role in the nation during the past two centuries. Its major cities include Mobile, Alabama’s only saltwater port and home of the nation’s original Mardi Gras, and Huntsville, nicknamed “Rocket City” for its role in the U.S. space program. Montgomery is the capital, while Birmingham is the largest city.
Alabama boasts a diverse and naturally beautiful landscape. It has 38 national historic landmarks, a national nature preserve, four national forests, 11 national wildlife refuges, a national military park and many striking state parks. The state also had many pivotal events in the Civil Rights movement of the 1950s and 1960s.
More than 500 people turned out for the stamp ceremony. In addition to McCutcheon, they included U.S. Rep. Mo Brooks, Alabama Senate President Pro Tem Del Marsh, state Sen. Arthur Orr, Madison County Commission Chairman Dale Strong, Huntsville Mayor Tommy Battle and Madison Mayor Paul Finley. Stamp collectors from as far away as Ohio were in the crowd, ensuring they got their day-of-issue stamps.
The Huntsville Forever Stamp celebration closed with more than 30 third-graders singing, “Happy Birthday, Alabama.” The dedication ceremony was one of more than 400 Alabama bicentennial events taking place throughout the year. The bicentennial celebrations will culminate in Montgomery on Dec. 14.
“From the state’s biggest cities to its smallest towns, from the mountains in north Alabama to the beaches in south Alabama, we are trying to include every Alabamian in this important celebration,” said Orr, chairman of the Alabama Bicentennial Commission.
The Alabama Forever Stamp can be purchased at The Postal Store at usps.com/shop, by calling 800-STAMP24 (800-782-6724), by mail through USA Philatelic or at Post Office locations nationwide. Information about ordering day-of-issue postmarks and covers is available at usps.com/shop under “Collectors.”