WILKES-BARRE — State Rep. Eddie Day Pashinski is urging people to join him Friday morning at the Wilkes-Barre Post Office to commemorate the issuance of the first coal miner postage stamp.
Pashinski, D-Wilkes-Barre, said it took a tremendous effort on the part of thousands of people to convince the U.S. Postal Service’s Citizens Stamp Advisory Council to issue the stamp, and now that it will finally be released, the occasion should be celebrated.
“We should rejoice and celebrate the memorializing of all those miners who built this country,” Pashinski said. “It’s important to justify all of the effort over the last several decades to memorialize the work of the coal miner and the building of America into a global power.”
The Forever Stamps — Made in America: Building a Nation — consist of 12 stamps in three rows of four.
Individual stamps feature an airplane maker, a derrick man on the Empire State Building, a millinery apprentice, a man on a hoisting ball on the Empire State Building, a Linotyper in a publishing house, a welder on the Empire State Building, a coal miner, riveters on the Empire State Building, a powerhouse mechanic, a railroad track walker, a textile worker and a man guiding a beam on the Empire State Building.
Pashinski said nearly every person in Luzerne County has had a coal miner, textile worker, steel worker, railroad worker or one of the other trades in their families.
“And many died from the conditions they had to work in,” he said. “More than 104,000 miners have died and millions have suffered with emphysema and asthma and black lung. Too often we forget the sacrifices and prices that our ancestors paid so that we could live a better life.”
Wayne Namey, who has been involved for years in the fight for the coal stamp, said his grandfathers were coal miners — one died in a mining accident and the other died of black lung disease. The new stamps will be available with special cancellations to mark the date of the stamp’s issuance, Namey said.
“It’s indeed a special occasion to celebrate and honor our fathers and grandfathers who worked and died in the coal mines or from complications from black lung,” Namey said. “The Citizens Stamp Advisory Committee has been turning me and others down for years for this stamp. We want to prove them wrong and show that this is a worthwhile stamp.”
By purchasing the stamp, said Namey, people can show the advisory committee that people care about coal mining and its importance in history.