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Norton Honors Soldier With D.C. Stamp

Washington, D.C., may have been forgotten when the U.S. Postal Service issued its 50-state collection, but D.C. Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D) made sure that Darryl Dent wasn’t forgotten.

Dent, a 21-year-old D.C. National Guard specialist, was killed last month in Iraq when his vehicle hit an explosive device 16 miles outside of Baghdad. He is the first National Guardsman and the second serviceman from D.C. killed in Iraq; the first was Marine Lance Cpl. Gregory MacDonald, 29, on June 25.

Norton presented the new D.C. commemorative stamp, a result of her efforts, to Dent’s father, Vernon Dent Sr., at a ceremony held Tuesday at the D.C. City Museum. Dent Sr. accepted a framed version of the stamp from Norton in remembrance of his youngest son, who would have been due home in just four months.

The diamond-shaped stamp — chosen for the original shape of the District — was created after the Postal Service released its 50-state collection without including Washington, D.C. Many District residents have long felt shorted in their rights and acceptance by the rest of the country, which “is why we were so upset when we weren’t included [in the collection],” said Christine Tolson, a member of the postmaster’s Citizen Advisory Committee and longtime resident of the District.

Norton shared Tolson’s feelings and approached the U.S. postmaster with the idea to create a D.C. stamp that would reflect the hometown aspect of the city. The proposal was directed to the Postal Service’s government affairs office and then to the stamp department, said Deborah Yackley of the USPS public affairs office. Before production, the stamp was approved by the Citizen Stamp Advisory Committee and the postmaster general.

Shireen Dodson of the Historical Society of Washington, D.C., D.C. Mayor Anthony Williams (D) and Norton spoke at the ceremony.

“Why do I think this stamp is important? … This stamp is really showing our city as a city, not as a symbol … our city as substance,” Williams said.

The stamp, designed by Greg Berger of Bethesda, Md., features row houses from the Shaw neighborhood, the Lincoln Memorial, the Washington Monument and the Capitol, as well as cherry blossoms and a portion of the current D.C. map. Each feature represents a part of the city’s history.

“This neighborhood is absolutely fascinating … [in ways] that are separate from the president,” said Eugene Miller, chairman of the PCAC.

The stamp was originally unveiled July 31 at the Lincoln Theatre by Norton, but Tuesday’s ceremony was the Postal Service’s official First Issue Ceremony of the D.C. Hometown stamp. The stamp is now available for sale in the Postal Service’s 38,000 nationwide post offices. Seventy-two million stamps have been printed.

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