AMERICAN SAMOA STAMP PETITION PRESENTED TO U.S. POSTAL SERVICE

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By Fili Sagapolutele

PAGO PAGO, American Samoa (April 20, 1999 - Samoa News)---American Samoa’s stamp petition drive gathered more than 15,000 signatures in the hope that the U.S. Postal Service will overturn its decision last year not to issue the Territory a commemorative stamp to commemorate the year 2000 Centennial.

More than 9,000 signatures were collected in American Samoa and the rest from overseas Samoans in Hawai‘i and the U.S. mainland. Some of Washington D.C.’s elite, including Secretary of Interior Bruce Babbitt, also signed the petition.

The petition drive was started last August by Governor Tauese.

According to Congressman Eni Faleomavaega Eni, the petitions were presented to representatives of the U.S. Postal Service last week. Those presenting the petitions on behalf of American Samoa include: Director of DOI’s Office of Insular Affairs Allen Stayman, representatives from the Governor’s Washington D.C. office, and members of the Congressman’s office.

"In spite of the many proud years of our union with the United States, American Samoa remains the only U.S. insular area for which the Postal Service has not issued a commemorative stamp," said the Congressman in a statement.

"That’s truly an astonishing oversight. One hundred years with no stamp is far too long. It’s past time for American Samoa to receive this recognition and I intend to continue to pursue this goal until it is achieved," he said.

The Congressman pointed out the serious nature of commemorating the political union of American Samoa and the United States, especially with American Samoa’s commitment to the U.S. armed forces.

"American Samoa’s commitment to the United States has been strong throughout the century. For decades American Samoa served as a Naval coaling station for U.S. ships in the Pacific, including during World War II. American Samoa was the staging point for 30,000 U.S. Marines involved in the Pacific theater," explained Faleomavaega who was in Pago Pago last week for Flag Day celebrations.

"Our tradition of military service is strong, and our current per capita rate of enlistment in the U.S. military services is as high as any state or territory. Our young men and women continue to serve proudly in America’s front lines in every armed conflict in which they are called to serve -- from the Pacific to Southeast Asia to the Middle East and , now, the Balkans," the Congressman pointed out.

In turning down American Samoa’s request for a commemorative stamp, Postal Service officials said that they do not issue stamps for U.S. territories.

That is, however, not true, as the Office of Insular Affairs found proof that all former and current U.S. territories were issued stamps in the past. This proof, in the form of the actual stamps, has also been presented to postal officials.

Stories from the SAMOA NEWS, American Samoa's daily newspaper, may not be republished without permission. To contact the publisher, send e-mail to samoanews@samoatelco.com.

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