Maybe a tiny stamp will make a big difference.

Veteran Merchant Marine and stamp collector Bernie Lory hoped so Thursday as he attended the unveiling of four new postage stamps honoring the maritime fleet.

"It makes me feel very good," Lory, 85, of Merrick, said at the ceremony in Ackerman Auditorium at the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy in Kings Point. "[We've] been forgotten about. . . . This will help quite a bit."

The stamps recognize the fleet's future, academy superintendent Rear Adm. Philip H. Greene Jr. said, and its past, including the 142 academy cadets who died on Liberty ships during convoy operations in World War II.

The Merchant Marine "played a vital role in the growth and security of our country since its earliest days," said James Cochrane, vice president of product information for the U.S. Postal Service.

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Each stamp features a different ship, spanning U.S. maritime history: the clipper ship, known for its square-rigged sails and used during the California Gold Rush; the auxiliary steamship with its backup sailing rigs; the Liberty ship cargo vessel that sustained Allied forces during World War II; and the container ship, which standardized the shape of containers and continues in use.

The stamps are being issued as "forever" stamps, meaning they will always be equal in value to the First-Class Mail one-ounce rate.

"In this small way, we have created a lasting tribute to the U.S. Merchant Marine," Cochrane said. "We are proud and honored to share their legacy with Americans everywhere."