Fr. Hesburgh, JFK on U.S. postage stamps

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WASHINGTON — Two prominent Catholics will be commemorated on U.S. postage stamps in 2017.

Holy Cross Father Theodore Hesburgh, who was president of the University of Notre Dame for 35 years, and President John F. Kennedy, who was assassinated while riding in a motorcade in Dallas in 1963, are among several subjects that will be part of next year's stamp program, the U.S. Postal Service announced Sept. 20.

Both stamps will be issued at the "forever" rate, which currently stands at 47 cents. The forever designation means the stamps can be used to pay first class postage for items weighing one ounce or less.

The USPS traditionally issues stamps on dates related to the subject. In Kennedy's case, May 29 will mark the 100th anniversary of his birth. The Father Hesburgh stamp will commemorate his achievements as a civic leader and educator, and will be issued Sept. 1 on the Notre Dame campus. The 100th anniversary of his birth is May 25.

Father Hesburgh, who died Feb. 26, 2015, at 97, was the longest serving president of the University of Notre Dame, holding the position from 1952 to 1987. He led the university through a period of dramatic growth and held sway with political and civil rights leaders.

The priest played an influential role in national and international affairs both during and after his presidency. He held 16 presidential appointments over the years and was a charter member of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights beginning in 1957. His involvement in national affairs also saw him tackling immigration reform, peaceful uses of atomic energy, campus unrest and treatment of Vietnam War draft evaders. Internationally, he was an advocate for development in the world' poorest nations that did not overlook the needs of indigenous and poor people.

A postal service news release said the stamp features an oil-on-panel painting of Father Hesburgh standing on the Notre Dame campus.

Kennedy emerged as a political leader from a powerful Democratic family in Massachusetts and became the country's 35th president. He entered politics after serving in World War II as a PT boat commander. Popularly known as JFK, Kennedy was the nation's first Catholic president and was the youngest person elected to the country's highest office at age 43 in 1960. He was assassinated Nov. 22, 1963.

His short term in the White House saw him order the Bay of Pigs Invasion, navigate the Cuban Missile Crisis, negotiate the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty and initiate the Space Race with the former Soviet Union to get humans to the moon. His term also saw the establishment of the Peace Corps and the acceleration of the civil rights movement.

The stamp image features a black-and-white photograph of Kennedy taken by Ted Spiegel in 1960.

Kennedy has been depicted on two other stamps: a 5-cent memorial stamp issued in 1964 and a 13-cent regular stamp issued in 1967.

© Arlington Catholic Herald 2016