September 7 - Neither Snow Nor Rain Day

Posted on September 7, 2018

All my life, I've heard "Neither snow, nor rain, nor heat, nor gloom of night says these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds." I always knew it was about the U.S. Postal Service - but I thought that some great American poet had written it, maybe back during the Pony Express days? Or maybe some journalist had written it, and the post office decided to use it as their official motto?

It turns out, it was the Ancient Greek historian named Herodotus that inspired this motto. (And, by the way, it isn't the U.S. Postal System "official" motto, because the USPS doesn't have an official motto.)

Writing about the Persian Royal Road, Herodotus says, "There is nothing that travels faster, and yet is mortal, than these couriers; the Persians invented this system, which works as follows. It is said that there are as many horses and men posted at intervals as there are days required for the entire journey, so that one horse and one man are assigned to each day." 

And I'm sitting here thinking, "Wow! That's JUST like the Pony Express!"

And of course I'm also thinking, "Man, if Herodotus could see how fast humans travel now!"

Anyway, to go on with Herodotus's quote:

And neither snow nor rain nor heat nor dark of night keeps them from completing their appointed course as swiftly as possible."

When the main New York City Post Office (the James A. Farley P.O.) was being built in the early 1900s, the building's architects decided that the most poetic translations of Herodotus's quote should grace the building. And so the words of the not-an-official-motto were carved over the entrance.

That NY Post Office celebrated its opening on this date in 1914.

These photos are a bit like, "Neither snow, nor wildfire, nor
gas shortage" shall stand in the way of delivery!


No comments:

Post a Comment