Each year on September 20th, Thailand celebrates the birthdates of two former kings — Chlalongkorn (Rama V) and Ananda Mahidol (Rama VIII) — with the observance of National Youth Day (Wan Yaowachon Haeng Chat — วันเยาวชนแห่งชาติ). The United Nations had proclaimed 1985 as International Youth Year and invited its members to celebrate the year under the slogan, “Participation, Development and Peace”. Thailand decided to participate by designating its National Youth Day which aims to encourage the young men and women of the Kingdom to believe that they can succeed in their lives. The two kings born on September 20 had reigned when they were young, a reminder for young Thais of what they can do for their country, of which they are the future.
Chulalongkorn was born on September 20, 1853. He became the fifth King of Siam on October 1, 1868, just after his fifteenth birthday, and is considered to be one of the greatest monarchs of the kingdom. Rama V’s reign was characterized by the modernization of Siam, government and social reforms, and territorial cessions to the British Empire and French Indochina. As Siam was threatened by Western expansionism, Chulalongkorn, through his policies and acts, managed to save Siam from being colonized. All his reforms were dedicated to ensuring Siam’s survival in the midst of Western colonialism, so that he earned the epithet Phra Piya Maharat (พระปิยมหาราช – The Great Beloved King). He was known to the Siamese of his time as Phra Phuttha Chao Luang (พระพุทธเจ้าหลวง – The Royal Buddha).
Ananda Mahidol was the grandson of Chulalongkorn and the eighth monarch of Thailand. He was born on September 20, 1925, in Heidelberg which was then in the Republic of Baden and later joined with Germany. He became the king of Thailand on March 2, 1935, at the age of nine, when he was in Switzerland. He returned to Thailand in 1945 to assume the power, but six month later he was found shot dead in his bed. The mysterious circumstances surrounding his death have been the subject of much controversy and are rarely discussed in the kingdom.
Celebration of National Youth Day intends to encourage young people throughout Thailand to realize the significance of their responsibilities toward national development for the sake of stability and prosperity of the nation. During the day, government ministers interact with the youth to discuss problems such as unemployment and disabilities.
While numerous stamps have been issued by Thailand to honor its young people, particularly the annual Children’s Day releases each January, as well as a great many portraying its most beloved king — Chulalongkorn — and a select few with Ananda Mahidol’s portrait, only one seems to have been released to mark the specific holiday of National Youth Day. That stamp was a single 3 baht denomination featuring a child’s drawing of six children mirrored by their selves as adults. It was released on September 20, 2010 — the 25th anniversary of the establishment of the holiday. Alas, I don’t (yet) have a copy in my collection.
For today, I have decided to include Scott #1170, issued on January 10, 1987, part of a pair celebrating that year’s Children’s Day — digitally cropped from it’s accompanying stamp (Scott #1169) which was featured on my entry for National Thai Language Day back on July 29. Lithographed and perforated 14½x15, the child’s drawing on this stamp pictures kids swimming and playing in a park after school, some of them still in their school uniforms (which many tend to wear all day, seven days a week),