By Hubert Walker for CoinWeek ….
The Citizens Coinage Advisory Committee (CCAC) held a short public meeting on February 15 to discuss themes for the 2019 America the Beautiful Quarters program and the Office of Strategic Services Congressional Gold Medal, but perhaps bigger news is that the meeting was the group’s first with its newest member, basketball legend and philanthropist Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.
The six-time NBA champion’s attendance at the meeting did not distract the committee from its business. Chairman Mary Lannin took charge and made sure that the meeting stayed on track, as she usually does. When it came time to greet Mr. Abdul-Jabbar, she was excited and happy to greet a new fellow member, briefly commenting on his fame, but the meeting was professional and everyone quickly focused on the day’s agenda.
2019 America the Beautiful Quarters
Themes and design concepts for the 2019 America the Beautiful Quarters were discussed first. Committee notes and recommendations will now go to the artists charged with rendering workable designs.
The five entries in the series for 2019 include Lowell National Historical Park (Massachusetts), American Memorial Park (Northern Marianas Islands), War in the Pacific National Historical Park (Guam), San Antonio Missions National Historical Park (Texas), and Frank Church-River of No Return Wilderness in Idaho. Before each discussion, April Stafford, program manager of the Mint’s Office of Sales and Marketing, gave a presentation on each coin to provide critical information and context.
Lowell National Historical Park was established in 1978. It consists of several sites in the city of Lowell relevant to the textile industry of the early 19th century, which were built with green space and living conditions in mind in order to avoid the brutal conditions found in earlier industrial mill towns. Another noteworthy aspect of the factories is the number of women who found employment and a level of independence there.
Possible themes included mill girls, the canal system, the water tower, the mill building, the city seal and the clock tower. Mottos that were considered include “Spindle City”, “City of Spindles”, “Mill City”, “All with Expectancy”, “American Industry” and “Art Is the Handmaiden of Human Good” (the city’s motto). It was generally agreed that an emphasis should be placed on the people who lived and worked there and the importance of industry and the Industrial Revolution to American life.
American Memorial Park in the Northern Marianas Islands honors those who lost their lives in the Marianas Campaign of World War II. The park is home to a museum and a flag monument, the flags being the most obvious choice for representation.
Similarly, the War in the Pacific National Historical Park in Guam also maintains the legacy of those who fought there during World War II. And like Lowell, the park consists of multiple sites in different locations. However, the park is also notable for its biodiversity. Here there was some debate, as one side asked not to focus on what is inside the park so much as why it was created, and another side argued that U.S. commemorative coins do a more than good enough job of commemorating the military and that other subjects should receive their due when possible.
Another multi-site park, San Antonio Missions Park contains several historical Catholic missions. It also happens to be part of a UNESCO World Heritage Site, a kind of commemorative more often seen on world coins. Much of the discussion, interestingly enough, centered on the possible inclusion (if not priority) of Christian symbols such as the cross to emphasize the original purpose of the missions, though it is more likely to be portrayed in the context of the distinct architectural and artistic properties of the park.
The River of No Return Wilderness Area was established in 1980. It was shortly thereafter named in honor of the late Senator Frank Church (D-ID), whose legislation helped preserve millions of acres of wilderness, including the River of No Return area, the largest contiguous wilderness in the continental United States. Discussion revolved around what kind of balance between wildlife, scenic geography and human activity should be struck.
2019 Office of Strategic Services Gold Medal
The Office of Strategic Services (OSS) was the forerunner of this nation’s intelligence sector – most notably the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). The OSS helped America and her allies win World War II against the Axis Powers. William “Wild Bill” Donovan, the organization’s founder, was a colorful and controversial figure, revered by many in the field today. The CCAC discussed three main themes concerning the OSS and its efforts: the covert side of its operations, its founder, and its activity in World War II in general.
As for Mr. Abdul-Jabbar, he was concise when it was his turn to share his thoughts and opinions. His fellow committee members have been discussing coin designs for the America the Beautiful Quarters program for many years now, with many similar concerns and tropes reoccurring over time. Mr. Abdul-Jabbar’s input naturally reflected the coins and themes at hand, as opposed to the conversations carried over from previous meetings that some of his peers engaged in.
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