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Commem $1 coin proposed for Reagan

reagan.jpgEstablishment of a Ronald Reagan Centennial Commission with a $1 commemorative coin produced from February 2010 to February 2011 is one of the requests before Congress.

 The bulk of the bill would establish a commission to honor the 2010 centennial of the birth of Ronald Reagan, the 40th president of the United States.  The bill, H.R. 5235, was introduced Feb. 6 by U.S. Reps. Elton Gallegly, R-Calif. and Roy Blunt, R-Mo.

 In addition to the $1 coin, a stamp in his honor is also mentioned.
Ronald Wilson Reagan remains an American hero ? the genuine article ? a man so revered that a recent Gallup poll ranks him first of all the men to hold that office, a position over George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, and even Franklin D. Roosevelt. Reagan is the rare person who has positively affected the lives of tens of millions of his fellow-countrymen, and in the process, changed the course of world history.

Several years ago, Grover Norquist, chairman of the Reagan Legacy Project, claimed to be ?spoiling for a fight? in an effort to carve Reagan?s face onto Mount Rushmore. He also had a more serious plan, however: keeping alive the late Sen. Paul Coverdell?s bid to put the Gipper on the $10 bill.

The Wall Street Journal quotes Norquist as saying that ?It would be a way to honor both the president and the currency.? They editorialize that it ?might be nice for taxpayers to have on their money a man who appreciated how hard they worked for it.?

Official Washington is notoriously flinty when it comes to giving recognition to America?s greatest leaders. President Franklin Roosevelt asked for a memorial consisting of a granite block bearing his name, date of birth (1881) and date of death (1945) located on Pennsylvania Avenue near the National Archives.

That request was granted, and not until 1998 ? more than a half century after his death ? was a more formal memorial dedicated near the tidal basin of the Potomac River between the Jefferson and Lincoln memorials, which honor the third and 16th presidents, respectively.

Reagan died on June 6, 2004, at age 93.  In 2000, The Reagan Legacy Project stated that the late Sen. Paul Coverdell, R-Ga., had introduced legislation to require the U.S. Treasury to issue a $10 currency note bearing the likeness of Ronald Reagan. A search of the Congressional Record, and the bill hopper, shows the bill was never dropped.

A different bill to build a memorial to Reagan in the nation?s capital recited some of his legacy: ?restoring faith in our system of democracy? and ?returning pride in being an American,? the bill recalls that as President, ?Ronald Reagan initiated policies that won the Cold War, protected and restored freedom and democracy around he globe, lowered taxes on American citizens, tabled the economic threats of inflation and economic stagflation, and ushered in an unprecedented era of peace and prosperity across the nation.?

Close to home, among hobbyists, the Reagan Treasury Department, with the Mint headed up by Donna Pope, brought about a rebirth of American commemorative coinage, setting the stage for circulating commemorative coinage of this generation.

A little known sidelight about Reagan is his devotion to medallic art. When it came time for his presidential inaugural medal to be produced, his is one of the few that is a virtual straight-on portrait (one of the most difficult to produce) ? its success assured by his willingness to sit for a life mask (a process involving breathing through straws into the nostrils, while fresh plaster is poured over the face).

In 2000,  Congress voted to award a national gold medal to Ronald and Nancy Reagan, in recognition of his achievements as President, and hers as First Lady.  In the twilight of his life, he announced that he suffered from Alzheimer?s disease.

Congress will receive the recommendation of the commission for a Reagan commemorative coin.  He should be honored with it.  Here?s why.
First, Reagan is a genuine hero who the American people continue to remember with great affection. The changes he brought to American society were significant and of lasting importance.

Second, consider some of the other American presidents commemorated on coinage. John F. Kennedy (the circulating half dollar), Eisenhower (a ?circulating? dollar and a centennial in 1990), FDR (the dime and a $5 gold commemorative in 1998), Jefferson (the nickel and bi-sesquicentennial dollar of 1993), Lincoln (the cent and 1918 Illinois half), and Washington (the quarter and several other commemoratives ).

Other presidents: McKinley, on the 1903 Louisiana Purchase Exposition gold dollar; U.S. Grant (the 1922 half and gold dollar), James Monroe and John Quincy Adams (Monroe doctrine centennial of 1923, half dollar), Calvin Coolidge (1926 sesquicentennial half dollar, during his presidency); Theodore Roosevelt (along with Washington, Jefferson and Lincoln, on the Mount Rushmore commemoratives of 1991), and Madison (bill of rights commemoratives, 1993).

John Young, of the Cox News Service, was more sanguine, if a bit testy, several years ago when he advocated for a Reagan nickel ? not the dollar coin proposed.

?A Reagan nickel would serve us well. It would remind us of what we have and what we owe. Instead of ?five cents,? the coin could say ?five trillion dollars owed.? It could be minted in fine balsa wood. Future generations could carry around those wooden nickels as a reminder and a receipt. Having a wooden nickel with Reagan?s likeness might inspire Americans to beware of blue-sky fiscal scams.?

There?s another reason why such a coin would fly: in 2002, the Christian Science Monitor quoted from a survey taken by what it described as a ?high-volume mail-order dealer, Littleton (N.H.) Coin Co.,? which, it said, ?asked customers to nominate people to appear on future coinage.? The result: Civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. received the most votes, with former presidents Ronald Reagan and Harry Truman close behind.
For now, it?s off to committee, but watch this one ? even with a Democratic Congress ? for Ronald Reagan?s legacy transcends partisan politics and honors Reagan, the man.

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