Issue Date: January 3, 2009
First-day City: Anchorage, AK
Untamed Arctic beauty is captured on the 2009 U.S. stamp honoring 50 years of Alaska statehood. The woodcut cachet pictures Sitka, a seaside village that was once the capital of Alaska.
Breaking with the U.S.P.S. tradition of not picturing living people on U.S. stamps, the design uses a photograph of DeeDee Jonrowe, taken as she competed in the 2000 Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race.
From the majesty of the mountain peaks to Jonrowe herself, the stamp captures the rugged Alaskan spirit. At the age of 49, the hearty Alaskan resident competed in the grueling race just three weeks after completing chemotherapy for breast cancer in 2003.
The Iditarod commemorates the 1925 “Great Race of Mercy,” when a diphtheria epidemic threatened Nome. When modern transportation failed, twenty teams of “mushers” and about 150 sled dogs relayed the serum over 674 miles from Anchorage to Nome to save thousands of lives.
Also known as the “Land of the Midnight Sun,” Alaska was purchased from Russia in 1867 for $7.2 million. The discovery of gold brought thousands of people to the territory during the late 1800s. In 1959, Alaska became the 49th state admitted to the union. Nearly 65% of the state is managed by the U.S. government as public land and national parks.