United States Postal Service creed
The words "Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds" have long been associated with the American postman. However, they are by no means an official creed or motto of the United States Postal Service. The sentence is inscribed on New York's James Farley Post Office in New York City, facing Penn Station, but it has no formal status. The Postal Service officially acknowledges it as its informal "motto" (quotes in an official USPS statement), alongside Charles W. Eliot's poem "The Letter." The USPS has an official mission statement:
The Postal Service shall have as its basic function the obligation to provide postal services to bind the Nation together through the personal, educational, literary, and business correspondence of the people. It shall provide prompt, reliable, and efficient services to patrons in all areas and shall render postal services to all communities.
The phrase was a translation by Prof. George Herbert Palmer, Harvard University, from an ancient Greek work of Herodotus describing the angarium, the ancient Persian system of mounted postal carriers c. 500 B.C. The inscription was added to the building by William M. Kendall of the architectural firm of McKim, Mead & White, the building's architects. It derives from a quote from Herodotus' Histories, referring to the courier service of the ancient Persian Empire:
It is said that as many days as there are in the whole journey, so many are the men and horses that stand along the road, each horse and man at the interval of a day’s journey; and these are stayed neither by snow nor rain nor heat nor darkness from accomplishing their appointed course with all speed.— Herodotus, Histories (8.98) (trans. A. D. Godley, 1924)
In other mediaEdit
- The phrase is quoted in the song "O Superman" by Laurie Anderson.
- In the American sitcom Seinfeld, in the episode "The Calzone", George Costanza incorrectly cites the creed as "Neither rain nor sleet" as he tries to persuade the mailman Newman to pick up his calzone.
- In the movie The Postman, the creed is used by Kevin Costner's character to swear Larenz Tate's character as a new postman.
- "National Postal Museum: FAQs". National Postal Museum. 2011. Retrieved 2015-04-18.
- "History of the United States Postal Service". Mailbox Near Me. Retrieved 2019-11-07.
- Postal Service Mission and “Motto”. USPS.com. Retrieved January 30, 2019.
- Herodotus. "The Histories". Perseus Project. Retrieved 2019-01-30.