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Medal of Honor designs debut

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Designs for new 2011 commemorative coins marking the 150th anniversary of the establishment of the Medal of Honor have been unveiled by the U.S. Mint.

The designs for the gold $5 and silver $1 coins were endorsed by the Citizens Coinage Advisory Committee. The Commission of Fine Arts preferred other designs for the reverse and for the silver obverse, while not endorsing any design proposed for the reverse of the silver coin.

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Mint Deputy Director Andy Brunhart unveiled designs for the 2011 Medal of Honor Commemorative Coin Program Sept. 29 at the Congressional Medal of Honor Society’s annual convention in historic Charleston, S.C.

Up to 100,000 gold $5 coins will be struck in both proof and uncirculated qualities combined. The maximum number of silver dollars that will be produced is 500,000.

The obverse of the gold $5 coin, by Mint Sculptor-Engraver Joseph Menna, depicts the original Medal of Honor, authorized by Congress in 1861, as the Navy’s highest personal decoration. Inscriptions on the obverse are LIBERTY, 1861, 2011, IN GOD WE TRUST and MEDAL OF HONOR. 

The reverse was designed by Artistic Infusion Program (AIP) Master Designer Joel Iskowitz and sculpted by Sculptor-Engraver Michael Gaudioso. The design features Minerva, based on the common central image on both the original Navy and Army Medals of Honor.

Minerva, standing with a shield representing the Army and Navy in her right hand and the Union flag in her left hand, is flanked by a field artillery cannon and wheel of the Civil War era. Inscriptions on the reverse are UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, $5 and E PLURIBUS UNUM.

The obverse of the silver coin, by Sculptor-Engraver Jim Licaretz, depicts the three current Army, Navy and Air Force Medals of Honor, left to right. The ribbon with field of stars in the center is the common feature of all three medals, reflecting the joint nature of modern era warfare and that the Medal of Honor is the only U.S. military medal worn around the neck.

Inscriptions on the obverse are LIBERTY, IN GOD WE TRUST, MEDAL OF HONOR and 1861-2011. The coin’s reverse was designed by AIP Master Designer Richard Masters and sculpted by Sculptor-Engraver Phebe Hemphill. The design depicts a modern-day infantryman carrying a wounded soldier to safety under enemy fire, reflecting courage and self-sacrifice. Legends are UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, ONE DOLLAR and E PLURIBUS UNUM.

Surcharges collected from coin sales – $35 for each gold coin and $10 for each silver coin – are authorized to be paid to the Congressional Medal of Honor Foundation to help finance its educational, scholarship and outreach programs.

The Medal of Honor is the highest award for valor in action against an enemy force that can be bestowed upon an individual serving in the U.S. Armed Forces. It is presented to a person who distinguishes himself or herself conspicuously by gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his or her life above and beyond the call of duty. The medals are presented by the President in the name of Congress.

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