Community service

About the Heroes of the Year Awards

Every day a letter carrier hero

Every day, letter carriers are on the streets in every neighborhood of every city in every state. Every day, the very nature of their jobs puts them in constant contact with the public. They are, in fact, perhaps the last public servants to make regular rounds and come into daily contact with the customers on their routes.

As a result, there are many times when letter carriers are first to arrive at the scene of a crisis—an accident, a disaster, a crime—and the first to offer assistance. Or perhaps because of their daily vigilance, a community problem—a child without shoes, increasing substance abuse among neighborhood youth, families without food or fuel, a lonely senior citizen who needs cheering—is recognized and action is taken to provide solutions.

The NALC is proud of the countless deeds of good will and heroism that letter carriers perform each year.

To recognize these carriers, NALC established the Heroes of the Year Awards in 1974 to pay public tribute to outstanding letter carriers who, ignoring dangers to themselves, perform selfless and heroic acts to rescue those at risk of losing their lives.

In 1978, a second category—Humanitarian of the Year--was initiated to honor letter carriers for significant, sustained personal contributions to a worthy cause.

The program was further expanded in 1986 to include a Branch Service Award recognizing an NALC branch involved in on-going community service.

Once again, in 2002, a fourth category—Special Carrier Alert—was created to honor letter carriers who do not risk their own lives, but who, due to their alert observations of conditions and people on their routes, save customers' lives.

Independent judges—representing the labor community, community service organizations, and emergency public services—review items published in The Postal Record's "Proud to Serve" column. Out of the many Postal Record stories, these judges select a National Hero, a National Humanitarian, and three Regional Heroes.

Each year the union continues the tradition, begun in 1985, of inviting our heroes to Washington to receive their awards in person. The official ceremony is held near National Headquarters in conjunction with a reception honoring the heroes. Because it recognizes the value of these individuals' achievements in astonishingly heroic action and substantial community involvement, the Heroes reception has very quickly become an important NALC occasion attended by NALC officers, senators and representatives, cabinet and government dignitaries, the Postmaster General and other postal officials, postal and AFL-CIO affiliated labor leaders, and community service representatives. These guests honor NALC's proud tradition of service by joining the heroes, their branch presidents and families for this very special awards presentation. Each of the winners receives a certificate and a monetary award.

We believe it is important to bring the outstanding activities of our members to the attention of the American public. For that reason, every effort is made to publicize what each hero did, to broadcast NALC's pride in their achievements and to highlight the annual Heroes of the Year reception itself.

Local news media are informed of this important event, and the festivities are filmed for satellite transmission to TV stations in the heroes' home cities.

All of these selfless, civic-spirited letter carriers, who perform way beyond the call of duty every day, truly deserve our honor and respect. Along with countless other NALC heroes, recognized and unrecognized over the years, they represent a continuum of the extraordinary commitment city delivery carriers feel to serve their communities.

These good men and women believe that serving America means more than delivering the mail. For them, a vital part of “universal service” is a sense of universal caring.

There are tens of thousands of courageous letter carriers all across America whose daily deeds of bravery and simple compassion make us all proud:

For letter carriers, to serve means to protect, to assist, to help every citizen at any time the opportunity arises.

On duty or off, letter carrier heroes generously deliver that “extra service” to the American public every day, and in doing so they proudly carry on a great tradition of delivering for America, six days a week.