Don’t you love getting a card or letter from someone you love? Knowing the thought, care and time taken to send a “just right” message makes it so special. Have you ever thought about how that message gets to you?

The postal service as we know it did not always exist. Letters were the primary means of communication when America was founded, but they were often hand delivered or sent to common locations like taverns or inns to be picked up. The postal service in America owes much of its birth and improvements to Benjamin Franklin, who was the first postmaster general. Today the process is much more complicated and sophisticated than when it started out.

Maybe you’ve never thought of what happens after you drop your letters off at the post office or in the mailbox. If you’re curious, here’s the scoop.

First, letters and packages are sorted by size through a machine. This process is called culling. The machine sorts all the mail so that it’s facing the right way, and a postmark with the date and time is applied.

After culling, the mail is sent to get a barcode. This barcode identifies which zip code the mail should be sorted into. The mail is then transported to a processing plant for further sorting. Depending on the location the mail is going to, it may be placed on a plane and sent to the delivery plant in the zip code location.

At the delivery plant, the mail is furthered sorted by a machine called a barcode sorter. It identifies which delivery route the mail should be sent to and the order that it should be placed in. Then it’s off to a truck for delivery to the post office where it is then assigned to a carrier and delivered to the recipient.

Whew! All that just for a simple letter or card. It’s quite an amazing process and definitely an improvement from Benjamin Franklin’s day. When you get a card or letter, just think of the great journey it has taken to get to you. That’s why we love sending physical cards and letters. They take an incredible journey to share news, love and joy!

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