WASHINGTON (USA TODAY/WUSA9) -- The U.S. Postal Service is unveiling its newest stamp on Veterans Day.
The faces of 12 WWII Medal of Honor recipients will provide the backdrop for what the Postal Service is calling the most iconic stamp in history: the Medal of Honor stamp.
"This is the most prestigious stamp issuance that we will ever undertake," says Susan McGowan, who manages stamp services for USPS. "There is so much to tell and honor. How do we communicate it all on a 1-by-2-inch box?"
Originally, the Postal Service considered putting medal recipients' faces on the stamps, but it wanted to make sure the stamp package honored all 464 World War II recipients.
Each package consists of 20 stamps on a souvenir sheet. It lists the names of every recipient and includes two stamp designs depicting Medals of Honor for the Army and Navy, the only service branches that awarded the medal at the time.
Production had to be rushed. Since the approval process last year, four of the living recipients have passed away.
"It can take four years for a typical stamp, but we couldn't wait that long. We needed to get it done for the remaining recipients," McGowan says. "As long as it took to bring this stamp to fruition, we knew we were working against the possibility of losing some more of these men."
Typically, the Postal Service prints 30 million stamps. Some 81 million of the Medal of Honor stamps are being issued. "That's how popular it will be," Postal Service spokesman Mark Saunders predicts. "These recipients are revered by all Americans. There is no one in this nation that has sacrificed more than these individuals."