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To celebrate the anniversary of the official Walter Reed National Military Medical Center (WRNMMC) Dedication Ceremony, commemorative postcards were given away as keepsakes last week.

“We wanted to do something special, that people could actually have to save,” said Dawn Marvin, head of the Communication and Marketing Department at WRNMMC. “So, we decided to do a commemorative postcard and also design a commemorative postmark cancellation. The postmark cancellation is officially approved by the U.S. Postmaster and shows that the postcard was processed through the United States Postal Service.”

The cancellation stamp is what makes the postcard a collector's item and gives it value, said Marvin.

“It includes the date and it names this as 'the first anniversary [Postmaster] station,' which only happens this one day, and will never happen again,” said Marvin.

The postcards were distributed for free by the WRNMMC History Committee (and postage stamps were available for purchase if needed) from a booth on Main Street, next to the U.S. Post Office last Thursday and Friday. The completed postcards were then collected to be mailed together to their intended recipients on the day of the anniversary Saturday, said Marvin.

“There are actually three official dates: Aug. 28 is when the last inpatients moved from Walter Reed Army Hospital; Sept. 15 is the official day that was named in the BRAC (Base Realignment and Closure) law; and Nov. 10 was the dedication ceremony here to stand up the new hospital,” said Marvin. “So, this is the final of the three. It also happens to be the day that FDR (President Franklin Delano Roosevelt) laid the first cornerstone for the original Navy Medical Center tower, Nov. 10, 1940.”

Someone who appreciates these historical facts is Doris Vaiana, a federal recovery coordinator, who came to the former National Military Medical Center in 1977 as a nurse in the Navy and has worked here in various capacities since then.

“I am a history person who thinks that these things [like the commemorative postcard] are fun, said Vaiana. “That's how I was raised, so I get them and put them in a box for posterity. Then, I can look back and recall these events years later.”

Vaiana said she is also sending the postcards to her family members, who also have their own ties to the hospital.

“I am sending them to my children, because all three of my children were born here (at the former National Military Medical Center), before [expecting mothers] had uniforms and wore civilian maternity clothes,” said Vaiana. “I also raised my children to be the same way and appreciate history.”

Marvin said Vaiana was not the only one to be excited about holding onto a keepsake that symbolizes history in the making.

“The response has been unbelievably positive,” said Marvin. “Everyone has been extremely positive and receptive about it. People have sent the postcards to their grandkids and their friends overseas and warriors, and others that they want to have this commemorative item.”

The idea for the commemorative postcard and cancellation stamp began with the WRNMMC Dedication Ceremony last year, and took a year to be fully realized, said retired Capt. Joseph Lopreiato, professor of Pediatrics at Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences.

“I have been a stamp collector for more than 40 years, and I knew that the Post Office can create commemorative postmarks for any organization that would like to honor an event,” said Lopreiato, who worked with the U.S. Postmaster to approve the cancellation stamp.

According to Lopriato, the cancelation stamps will be available online in the Postal Bulletin at for 30 days for anyone who is interested in collecting a piece of history.