The hidden date for this stamp can be found underneath the flag of France.
On August 24, 1949, in the shadow of growing world instability, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) was formed a defensive alliance to protect the Western world against communist expansion. Canada Post is proud to join in commemorating this historic organization with the release of a new domestic-rate stamp featured on a pane of 16 and on Official First Day Covers.
This new stamp illustrates the flags of member states flowing as a unified body from the NATO flag. The NATO emblem, a combined circle and compass rose, symbolizes unity and cooperation among countries of the alliance.
During the Second World War, with a common enemy in Nazi Germany, the Soviet Union fought on the side of the Allies. Once Hitler was defeated, however, the communists failed to follow the lead of other Western nations that disarmed. Instead, they maintained armed forces 10-million-men strong. Then, in 1949, China came under communist control, and the following year fighting broke out on the Korean peninsula. Suddenly the planet seemed once again on the brink of a world war.
A military alliance was proposed between Britain, France, Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg. Canada took the lead in broadening this 'Brussels Pact' to include North America. Twelve countries signed the resulting North Atlantic Treaty and today 19 nations are NATO members.
After the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 and the disintegration of the Soviet Union in 1991, NATO's traditional role came to an end. A nuclear-armed defense force gave way to NATO-led peacekeeping forces. Today, in light of the current Balkan crisis, NATO is committed to conflict prevention while "pursuing its long-standing political goal of establishing a just and lasting peaceful order in Europe."