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Obama signs Medal of Honor law

New gold $5 coins and silver dollars to honor the Medal of Honor will be coming off the U.S. Mint’s coining presses in 2011 under terms of legislation signed into law Nov. 6 by President Barack Obama.

The commemoratives will celebrate the 150th anniversary of the award, which was established by Congress in 1861 as the highest award for naval personnel and then broadened to include the Army in 1862 and the Air Force in 1956.

The Mint is authorized to strike up to 100,000 gold coins and 500,000 silver dollars. A surcharge of $35 will be assessed on each of the gold coins and $10 on each of the silver dollars.

These are built into the prices at the time of issue. If all of the coins are sold, the coin program could generate up to $8.5 million in surcharges for the Congressional Medal of Honor Foundation, which was founded in 1999 to promote the ideals of heroism and selfless service as exemplified by Medal of Honor recipients.

The money will be used to fund educational, scholarship and outreach programs by the foundation. “The Medal of Honor Foundation is very grateful for the strong support of Congress and the President in the establishment of a Medal of Honor commemorative coin,” said Nick Kehoe, president of the foundation.

Recommended for the coin designs are motifs that will represent the three Medal of Honor designs. The law also specifies that the minting work for the uncirculated coins be at a different facility from that where proof coin production is carried out.

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