Thursday, July 8, 1999

Duke stamp decision could
come next week

By Pete Pichaske
Phillips News Service


WASHINGTON -- One week before the fate of the proposed Duke Kahanamoku commemorative postage stamp is to be decided here, supporters remain optimistic that the legendary Hawaii surfer will be awarded the honor.

Despite reports that the Postal Service has been less than inundated with letters, supporters are relying on what will amount to a last-minute blitz of letters and petitions, and what they say is Kahanamoku's lasting, international appeal.

"It's the quality, not the quantity, that will be significant," said Darryl Hatheway, chairman of the Washington, D.C., chapter of the Surfrider Foundation, which is spearheading the effort.


The Citizens' Stamp Advisory Committee meets in Washington July 15-16. Send cards, letters or petitions to support a Duke Kahanamoku stamp to:

Citizens' Stamp Advisory Committee
Attn: Duke Kahanamoku Commemorative Stamp
c/o Stamp Development
U.S. Postal Service, 475 L'Enfant Plaza SW, Room 4474E
Washington, D.C. 20260-2437

"He's got support not just in the surfing community or in Hawaii, but from people around the world. They support the idea of a Hawaiian cultural figure being represented. ... I think it will be a fantastic stamp."

Meanwhile, Sen. Daniel Akaka, D-Hawaii, came away from a recent meeting with Postmaster General Willam J. Henderson optimistic about the Hawaii icon's chances.

Henderson "seemed interested and receptive and actually knew who Duke Kahanamoku was," said Akaka spokesman Paul Cardus.

Henderson will make the final decision on the stamp. But he will rely on recommendations from the Citizens' Stamp Advisory Committee.

The 12-member panel has its quarterly meeting here July 15-16, and has indicated Kahanamoku will be one of the subjects considered.

Every year, the Postal Service picks about 30 subjects for new stamps, culled from about 50,000 requests. Kahanamoku, the father of international surfing and an Olympic gold medalist and Hollywood actor as well, has been considered in the past, but never made the final cut.

Continuing international interest -- including the popularity of Kahanamoku memorabilia on the Internet -- prompted the advisory committee to reconsider him this year.

The committee is secretive about its recommendations. Postal Service spokesman Don Smeraldi said Kahanamoku meets the loose guidelines set for commemorative stamps, which, among other things, say the subject, unless a president, must have been dead at least 10 years (Kahanamoku died in 1968) and must have national appeal and significance.

"It's so subjective," said Smeraldi of the selection process. "A lot of hard decisions have to be made."

Public interest and support, he added, are not a determining factor but can give a candidate a boost.

Smeraldi also said next week's recommendation might not be made public until Henderson makes his decision, which could take months.

Smeraldi could not say how many letters the advisory committee had received in support of Kahanamoku. But Cardus said contacts with the Postal Service indicated the volume has not been overwhelming. That should change by next week.

Hatheway said a letter from his Surfrider Foundation Chapter has some 300 signatures and should arrive this week. He said the chapter is also sending news clips, an original letter from author James Michener from years ago, and pro-Kahanamoku editorials from California and Hawaii newspapers.

Others are rallying support too.

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