By Joshua McMorrow-Hernandez for PCGS ……
Memorial Day, a federal holiday that occurs on the last Monday of May, honors the brave Americans who died during their service to the United States Armed Forces. While there are many United States coins that pay homage to the nation’s military veterans and various branches of the United States military, the most apropos pieces specifically honor those who have died in service.
Among the U.S. coins that pay tribute to those who sacrificed all is the 1994 Vietnam Veterans Memorial Dollar. This silver commemorative coin recognizes both the solemn landmark in Washington, D.C., and the more than 58,000 service members who died serving in the Vietnam War from 1957 through 1975.
The Vietnam Veterans Memorial was designed by Maya Lin and dedicated on November 13, 1982. The two-acre memorial is located on the National Mall in D.C. and consists of 72 black granite panels inscribed with the names of servicemembers who died in service or as a result of injuries sustained during the Vietnam War.
The memorial wall originally bore the names of 57,939 individuals, though this figure has surpassed 58,300 over the years as more names are added due to clerical errors and, sadly, further deaths resulting from combat during the Vietnam War era. Along with the memorial wall are other remembrances, including a bronze statue called Three Servicemen created by Frederick Hart (dedicated 1984), as well as a 1993 work by Glenna Goodacre known as the Vietnam Women’s Memorial.
The Vietnam Veterans Memorial was chosen as the subject of a 1994 commemorative silver dollar, released in honor of its 10th anniversary. However, by way of recognizing the physical memorial, the coin also honors the more than 58,000 service people who died as a result of the Vietnam War. The coin was authorized under Public Law 103-186 on December 14, 1993. The obverse was designed by John Mercanti while the reverse is the work of Thomas D. Rogers. Uncirculated issues were struck by the West Point Mint and had a regular issue price of $32 USD while Proofs were produced by the Philadelphia Mint and sold for $35 apiece.
As is usual for modern commemorative coins, the Uncirculated coinage saw a much lower mintage than its Proof counterpart. The 1994-W issue saw only 53,317 pieces struck and the Proofs yielded 227,671 – both issues cumulatively totaling fewer than the 500,000 maximum authorized coins for this issue. The coin is also included in several PCGS Registry Sets inclusive of modern commemorative coinage.
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