Bend's Robert Maxwell can enjoy his Medal of Honor anytime, but Americans will now be able to buy the award's likeness for their letters and parcels.
The U.S. Postal Service is issuing stamps with images of World War II-era Medals of Honor. The stamps will be lined with the images of the recipients who were still alive when the stamps were designed.
Four of the recipients, including former U.S. Sen. Daniel Inouye of Hawaii, recently died, before the stamps were officially issued.
Today, shortly after 11:30 a.m., Maxwell, 93, is scheduled to receive a framed sheet of stamps in the Bend High School Library.
“Serving was a good experience, although there were many bad experiences along with it,” Maxwell said. “The good things were enough to cover all of those bad ones. It was an honor and privilege to serve my country, and we don't stop serving when we take our uniforms off.”
Maxwell received his award “For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at risk of life above and beyond the call of duty on 7 September 1944, near Besancon, France.” During the battle, Maxwell jumped on a grenade hurled in the direction of his company, absorbing the blow and saving the lives of those around him.
“It's a big honor and heavy one to carry around in terms of emotions because it represents all that's good about the military,” Maxwell said. “Actually, it represents what's good about America, too, and the fact that America honors those who have performed well and done their duty.”
More than 16 million Americans served in World War II, and 464 of them received the nation's highest military honor. Eight are still alive today.
“It was important to have the photographs of those living around the stamps, but to have the stamp of just the medal so that all 464 could be honored,” said Peter Haas, a Postal Service spokesman.
While Maxwell will receive his copy of the stamps today, Haas said everyone else will have to wait until Tuesday, the day after Veterans Day.
Speaking of the stamp presentation, Maxwell said that the honor “just comes with the territory.”