On July 4, 1957, the U.S. Postal Service issued a commemorative depicting Old Glory with the motto “Long May It Wave.” As the first stamp to use the flag as a major design element, it generated numerous negative comments. Many argued that to subject the flag to postal cancellation would be disrespectful. Some even pointed out that such a stamp violated the criminal codes of nearly every state which barred the use of the flag on business envelopes or articles for carrying merchandise
Despite the opposition, the Post Office went ahead and released it and the “Long May It Wave” stamp became a popular item. When Alaska entered the Union in 1959, a commemorative picturing a 49-star flag celebrated the event. The following year, a 50-star flag stamp honored Hawaii’s admittance
The first flag definitive appeared in 1963 to meet the new 5¢ first-class rate. Featuring the Stars and Stripes waving over the White House, it established “the flag over something” pattern, which continues to be used today
Five stamps were added to the Flag Series in 1981. One of them simply pictures the ring of 13 stars found on our country’s first flag, while another shows the flag of today flying high above the Supreme Court. The remaining three depict scenes which were inspired by Katharine Lee Bates’ poem “America the Beautiful.” Appropriately, each stamp carries the line which corresponds with its picture.
An author and educator, Bates wrote the words to one of America’s most moving and patriotic songs in 1893. In 1911 her book “America the Beautiful and Other Poems” was published. Samuel A. Ward later composed the melody to which we sing the song today.