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US Postal Service releases Boston Light stamp

Sally Snowman, keeper of the Boston Light on Little Brewster Island since 2003, and her husband James Thomson, talked after the stamp was unveiled at a ceremony on Saturday.

Kayana Szymczak for the Boston Globe

Sally Snowman, keeper of the Boston Light on Little Brewster Island since 2003, and her husband James Thomson, talked after the stamp was unveiled at a ceremony on Saturday.

The US Postal Service released Saturday a Forever stamp depicting Boston Light, the first lighthouse in the country, along with stamps honoring four other New England lighthouses.

“Lighthouses have different meanings for different people. It means hope, it means ‘the light,’ ” said Sally Snowman, who has served as the keeper of Boston Light on Little Brewster Island since 2003. “It also has a very important role as a navigational aide. . . . Now that it’s a stamp, the federal government has acknowledged it as an important piece of history.”

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The stamp was unveiled in a ceremony on the Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy Greenway on Saturday morning.

Proposing the stamp to the Postal Service was a natural step for Paul Medina, postmaster of landlocked New Ipswich, N.H., who spends two weeks a year manning Boston Light while Snowman is on vacation.

As a child, Medina spent many summer days on the beach in Gloucester, he said, and wanted to become a lighthouse keeper. However, he went in a different direction, earning a degree in finance and computer science from the University of Massachusetts Lowell.

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He joined the Coast Guard Auxiliary and began volunteering as assistant keeper of Boston Light 13 years ago.

In 2005, he requested the lighthouse be commemorated on a stamp and was “ecstatic” when he heard his request was approved in April.

“It’s an honor,” he said. “It means a lot to me.”

The four other stamps in the set depict the Portland Head lighthouse in Cape Elizabeth, Maine; Portsmouth Harbor in New Castle, N.H.; Point Judith in Narragansett, R.I.; and New London Harbor in New London, Conn.

Boston Light is the only federally funded manned lighthouse in the country. It was built in 1716and destroyed three times during the Revolutionary war — twice by American revolutionaries, once by retreating British forces in 1776 — and rebuilt in 1783.

By selling 82 million lighthouse stamps at 46 cents apiece, the postal service expects to generate about $37.7 million, said George B. Flood, a postal service spokesman.

Commemorative stamps tend to generate more interest than the run-of-the-mill Liberty Bell Forever stamps, said Tom Costin Jr., who served as Lynn’s postmaster for more than 30 years.

“This is one of the best programs that the postmaster ever started,” he said. “You get so many people interested in collecting stamps, because they tell a story.”

Medina said he planned to mail his first Boston Light stamp very soon. “Probably a note to Sally Snowman, thanking her for all the work she’s done over the years,” Medina said. “I’ll probably send it from my post office in New Ipswich.”

The Boston Light stamps are especially precious to Snowman, a Plymouth resident who has spent much of the last decade leading tours and tending to the island wearing 1783-era bonnets and dresses she makes herself. Snowman and her husband, James Thomson, got married on the island in 1994 and published a book about the lighthouse five years later.

Snowman said she will save the Boston Light stamps for 2016, 300 years after the lighthouse was originally was built.

“Whoever I send that stamp to, it’s going to have a very special meaning,” she said.

Gal Tziperman Lotan can be reached at gal.lotan@globe.
com
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