U.S. Postal Service representatives and territorial dignitaries honored the late Gov. Juan F. Luis by canceling special limited-edition envelopes with an official, one-of-a-kind commemorative rubber hand-stamp in a quiet ceremony Tuesday afternoon in St. Croix’s historic Government House ballroom.
The special envelopes, called "cachet envelopes," are sought after by stamp and postal memorabilia collectors. This one features Luis’ portrait incorporated into original artwork by St. Croix artist Barbara Guerre.
Luis knew about this small honor before he passed from this world in June of this year, said his widow Luz Maria Guadalupe Luis.
"It didn’t matter to him to be honored, but he knew it was a matter of pride, especially for the Hispanic community, so he decided … to accept it; and today I am here in his place," said Luz Luis.
The VI-Puerto Rico Friendship Committee initiated the request for the stamp to highlight the two territory’s long ties, as embodied in the former governor himself.
"He was a Puerto Rican and a Virgin Islander, born in Vieques, he was adopted by this island," said Astrid England, president of the VI-Puerto Rico Friendship Committee. The stamp reads, "Two Flags, Two Cultures, Friendship Forever."
Martin Caballero, representing the U.S. Postal Service’s Caribbean District, recounted some of the governor’s accomplishments before joining hands with Luz Luis, Sens. Ronald Russell, Sammuel Sanes and other dignitaries to ceremoniously hand-stamp the cachet envelopes.
Tuesday’s ceremony was one of a number of public festivities emphasizing the territory’s Puerto Rican community, culminating Oct. 10 with Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico Friendship Day. This Friday, the VI-PR Friendship Committee is hosting a Noche de Bohemia evening of Latin entertainment at the ARMAPAVIE Sports Center across from Hovensa, starting at 7 p.m.
And Whim Plantation will be holding La Fiesta Del Batey, a free admission family fun day, Sunday from noon to 5 p.m.
The VI-PR Friendship festival village will open in the St. Croix Agriculture Department Grounds Oct. 7, and festivities will continue through Sunday, with numerous local and regional musical acts, talent shows and children’s activities.
Five hundred of the cachet envelopes have been canceled with the commemorative stamp and will be available for sale at the festival village at $10 each. There are also about 70 framed sets, with a tastefully mounted canceled cachet envelope and a short biography of the governor, which the VI-PR Friendship Committee will be selling for $20 each.
The U.S. Postal Service will keep the one-of-a-kind official stamp, said Caballero. After the limited-edition envelopes are sold, anyone wanting to commemorate the governor can still get a regular envelope hand-stamped with the cancellation by mailing the envelope to his office with return postage, he said.
The mailing address is: Martin Caballero, Caribbean District Marketing Manager; 585 Ave. FD Roosevelt, Ste 223; San Juan PR 00936-9312.