UC Berkeley News
In Brief

UC Berkeley In Brief

'The power of a stamp'

These are excerpts of a speech by U.S. Postmaster General John Potter at the opening ceremony of the World Philatelic Exhibition on May 27, 2006.

"Every once in a while there's a story that comes back and really rips me. And this is the story of a young man who has Crohn's disease and was really up against the wall. Many thought he wouldn't make it. At the time, he was contacted by the Make-a-Wish Foundation … It's a foundation that reaches out to young people who have diseases that may end their lives, and offers them an opportunity to have a wish.

"Today, I'm happy to have someone here whose wish – believe it or not – was to meet the postmaster general. Now, when I told my kids that, they said ... well, they were a little surprised! Why did Gideon Sofer want to meet the postmaster general? Because he understands the power of stamps.

"You see, it's not very popular to talk about a disease that affects your digestive system. Think about it. How often do you talk about that? Would you be surprised to know that as many people suffer from Crohn's disease as suffer from Parkinson's disease? Would you be surprised to know that when it comes to medical research, the country spends about 25 percent on Crohn's disease as it does on Parkinson's.

"(Gideon's) message to me was: First of all, we need to do a much better job of communicating. And, as somebody who collects stamps, he saw no better vehicle to get the word out, than through a stamp. And his goal is to get the Citizens' Stamp Advisory Committee here in the United States to listen to his plight and get the word out on this disease that has afflicted him and his family.

"So, think about that: The power of a stamp to carry a message on every envelope. Every person that sees that stamp gets the message, asks the question, what's behind that stamp? We celebrate a lot of things, but we also use stamps to carry messages; messages about our country, messages about good things about our country; but [also] messages of concern, and, in this case, awareness."