The First Day of Issue Dedication Ceremony Takes Place in the Gables
By Grace Carricarte
A packed room at the American Orchid Society Library welcomed orchid lovers from across the nation for a unique unveiling last month. The United States Postal Service’s wild orchid “Forever” stamps were revealed on February 21, hosted by Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden. The 10 new first-class stamps feature nine wild species of the exotic beauties.
The fact that Coral Gables was chosen for the unveiling speaks volumes about the city’s romance with the flower. Not only is the American Orchid Society headquartered here, the city itself is collaborating with Fairchild in its Million Orchid Project, with a goal of reintroducing native orchids to the city’s canopy. Since the project began in 2016, more than 43,000 orchids have been planted by volunteers, and the city hopes to plant another 250,000 by 2030. Even Mayor Raúl Valdés-Fauli is an enthusiast, with his own orchid house. And this month Fairchild will host the 16th Annual International Orchid Festival.
The master of ceremonies at the unveiling, Georgia Tasker, (the Miami Herald’s environmental writer and author of the Florida Gardener’s Guide series), welcomed all. A presentation of colors by the 482 Base Honor Guard was accompanied by Gulliver School students singing the National Anthem.
Susan Wedegaertner, president of the American Orchid Society, then outlined the society’s priorities of “shared education, research, and conservation” and its hope that the stamps will raise awareness of orchid habitat conservation. U.S. Postal Service Jacqueline Krage Strako, who led the official stamp dedication, noted that, “Of all the flowers the postal service has celebrated on its stamps, orchids represent some of the most flamboyant and enchanting displays in nature. Indeed, orchids are seen as seducers.”
Photographer Jim Fowler (shown above), who took the stamp shots, shared his personal seduction to photographing orchids, when a woman randomly invited him to see a terrestrial orchid growing in her yard. He urged the audience to preserve our natural environment, as did speaker Dr. Lawrence W. Zettler, director of the Orchid Recovery Program. What will be preserved is the value of Orchid issues. As a “Forever” stamp they will always be equal to the price of a current U.S. first-class stamp.