For National Thank a Mail Carrier Day on February 4, chances are the weather is windy and blustery cold, and maybe even snowy where you live. But the weather shouldn’t stop you from thanking your letter carrier because they are the ones braving the conditions to get the mail to you.
There are plenty of jokes told about undelivered letters, but nobody gets them, so we will refrain from telling them here. The key to telling mailman jokes is good delivery, so we will leave those for the dedicated men and women who will be making sure the mail gets delivered today. They deserve our appreciation every day, but too often they are not recognized for the work they do. So today we salute the mail carriers who ensure our post reaches us.
History of National Thank a Mail Carrier Day
“Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds.”
Although these words are carved in stone over the entrance to the old New York City Post Office building on 8th Avenue, the U.S. Postal Service does not have an official motto. But if it did, this would surely be it.
According to the USPS, the quote often mistaken as the U.S. Post Office motto comes from “The Persian Wars” written by the ancient Greek historian Herodotus around 445 B.C. and refers to the Persian system of mounted postal couriers who “served with great fidelity” during the wars between the Greeks and Persians (500-449 B.C.).It serves as a fitting tribute to our nation’s letter carriers who “serve with great fidelity” in the faithful execution of their work as public servants.
Beginning in 1692, the first formal system of mail delivery was established in the American colonies. Postmasters were appointed in each colony with a tavern utilized in each community by postal riders for depositing mail instead of delivering mail directly to individual addresses.
In 1775, the Second Continental Congress established the creation of a United States Post Office and appointed Benjamin Franklin as head of the department. A woman named Mary Katherine Goddard who served under Franklin may have been America’s first female postmaster when she was appointed by Franklin to be postmaster in Baltimore Maryland that same year. This early Post Office Department hired post riders who rode horseback hundreds of miles over dangerous and isolated territory to deliver mail to remote post offices. Some of these brave post riders were commissioned to alert the colonies when British troops were on the move in the early stages of the American War for Independence, and thus the Post Office played a critical role in the American revolution.
After winning the fight for independence from Britain, the first officially recognized Post Office Department of the United States of America opened in 1792, authorized by the newly ratified United States Constitution that empowered Congress to establish Post Offices.
An efficient and dependable system of mail delivery continues to be a vital part of the preservation and strength of modern societies, just as it was vital to the expansion of ancient civilizations. As Herodotus recounted so eloquently, those who carry and deliver mail and “serve with great fidelity” deserve to be recognized and appreciated. On National Thank a Mail Carrier Day, we celebrate the men and women who continue this honorable tradition.