World War II 50th Anniversary
World War II was one of the most significant events of the 20th century. The U.S. Postal Service began planning for the war’s 50th anniversary in 1985. It wanted to honor the key events of the war effort as well as the various aspects of national endeavor that contributed to Allied victory. But how to do that without producing a thousand stamps?
The solution was a series of sheetlets – one for each year of the war – that consisted of a large center map framed by five stamps on the top and five on the bottom. Five years of commemorating WWII would yield five sheets, for a total of 50 stamps, enough for an honorable tribute and accomplish Postal Service goals.
The world maps are masterpieces of thumbnail summaries. They call attention to the major military and political developments of the year and include events not featured on the individual stamps. Color coded for easy identification of the warring factions, they’re “a year in summary” at a glance.
The 1991 stamps spotlight the world at war in 1941, featuring Burma Road, Peacetime Draft, Lend-Lease, Civil Defense, Pearl Harbor, the U.S. Declaration of War, and more.
The next sheetlet commemorated the following year’s events – 1942: Into the Battle.
“1942: Into the Battle” uses text, arrows, and color shading to pinpoint the war’s theaters of operations and historical World War II events, such as the Battle of Midway, the landing of Allied troops in North Africa, and the Battle of the Coral Sea.
On June 4th, 1944, Allied forces entered the city of Rome. General Clark, who was at the forefront recalls, “There were gay crowds in the streets, many of them waving flags.… Flowers were stuck in the muzzles of the soldiers’ rifles and of the guns on the tanks. Many Romans seemed to be on the verge of hysteria in their enthusiasm for the American troops .…” The fall of Rome marked the final phase of the war. Two days later, Eisenhower’s forces landed in Normandy.
The fifth and final installment of the World War II series commemorates the 50th anniversary of the war’s final year. Titled “1945: Victory at Last,” these 10 stamps chronicle the events leading to Germany’s surrender, the Japanese surrender, and ultimately the Allied victory. Nearly 300,000 American service personnel lost their lives between 1941 and 1945.