In just 10 days, USPS will issue a new sheet of 6 stamps honoring Lady Bird Johnson and her dedication to environmental and conservation projects. The First Day of Issue ceremony will take place at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center in Austin, Texas. Johnson—popularly known as “our environmental First Lady”—cofounded the center, then known as the National Wildflower Research Center, with her great friend, actress Helen Hayes, in 1982.
At that time, Hayes was one of the best-known actresses in the world. Like Johnson, she also had a lifelong passion for wildflowers and natural beauty. “Ever since I was very young,” she wrote in the forward to Betty Castro’s The Wildflower, “I liked to creep off to a field near my grandmother’s farm in Maryland, find a patch of wildflowers—red clover or field daises or such—curl up in it, and dream beautiful dreams.”
Proud of her role in the institution’s founding, Hayes noted in the Winter 1985 issue of the Center’s newsletter: “I joined Lady Bird Johnson . . . in the establishment of the much needed organization, based on my personal understanding and love for what we have been generously given by nature’s beauty . . . I am proud to be a part of this effort.”
Both women participated directly in the center’s work, attending countless fundraisers, benefits, and other events to raise contributions.
“Helen Hayes gave so generously of her talents and in the giving, brought joy into countless lives. I’m deeply grateful to have shared her life,” Johnson later wrote in the Center newsletter. “I will especially feel her spirit in the wildflower fields she loved and the legacy of native plants she championed through the work of the National Wildflower Research Center, which she co-founded with me. She will remain a national treasure in our hearts.”
Over the years, the center grew to be an international leader in research, education, and projects that encourage the use of wildflowers and native plants. Today it continues Johnson’s commitment to promote the beauty and sustainability of native wildflowers, plants, and landscapes. It was renamed the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center in 1997.
The Lady Bird Johnson (Forever) stamp sheet and other related philatelic products may be pre-ordered online. The First Day of Issue ceremony, which is free and open to the public, will take place Friday, November 30, at 11 a.m. CST. The 2011 Helen Hayes (Forever) stamp and related philatelic products are still available online.
Helen Hayes licensed by CMG Worldwide, Indianapolis, IN