It used to be that they couldn’t put someone’s picture on a postage stamp until they had been dead for ten years, with the exception being a deceased President, who could go on one immediately (or a year after dying; same thing, really, given the time for designs to be created and the like [see update below for greater detail]). This always seemed like a reasonable time delay to extend to other adventures in naming things for dead people.
As such, my vow from a few years back to not refer to National Airport by its redubbed name, “Reagan”, goes by the wayside. (After a year from now.) (But it’s still going to be Intercontinental in Houston for a while yet!) Not that I really had anything against the man: having been in high school and college while he was in office, Reagan will always be a valid “face” of the U.S. Presidency to me, and I wasn’t yet old enough, jaded enough, cynical enough to recognize any evils he did for what they were at the time they occurred. So I largely just give him a “bye” in terms of rating his terms in office.
Of course, I see on CNN that there are moves afoot to put Reagan’s face on either the $10 bill or half the dimes. I come from the “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” school of thought here: there’s no need to make a change, the existing pictured people are from long enough ago to not bear any bitterness from any but a tiny fraction of the populace, and there’s a certain historical value in having someone like Hamilton on the $10 bill, as it’s the only way most people will ever encounter his name after 10th grade U.S. history class.
I’m so opposed to this sort of a change that I’ll make a vow now: if this is done any time in the next ten years — before Reagan has been dead for a decade — I will examine the money I get as change and refuse anything with his image on it. It may mean work for me and a lot of annoyed shopkeepers (especially with the dimes; I only get a $10 bill maybe one time in ten when getting $10 in change anymore, it’s always fives instead), but it will also send a message. You don’t see Susan B. Anthony or Sacajawea dollars in use very often, do you? A big piece of that is because people just didn’t want to use them. If enough people do likewise with Reagan dimes or bills, you’ll see them fade away quickly, too.
[Weblog title reference: From The Wizard of Oz, in “Ding Dong, the Witch is Dead”: As Coroner, I must aver / I thoroughly examined her. It’s also a cruel reference to Reagan’s Alzheimer’s Disease diagnosis, of course.]
Updated June 18, 2004
Per this story, a stamp is already in the works. Look for it on February 6, the first birth anniversary after Reagan died.Updated February 3, 2011
I still don’t usually refer to the airport as “Reagan”. It’s almost always “National” or “DCA” for me, and when I do slip and call it “Reagan”, I usually backtrack and correct myself. These days, though, that’s really more habit than reluctance to use the revised name. After all, it’s not like they removed someone else’s name to apply Reagan’s.