WASHINGTON - The U.S. Mint is unveiling a new coin to honor the 230th anniversary of the founding of the Marine Corps - the first time the government has struck a commemorative coin to salute a branch of the military.
The new silver dollar will feature on one side the famous photograph of the flag-raising at Iwo Jima taken by Associated Press Photographer Joe Rosenthal, and on the other side the official Marine Corps emblem of an eagle, globe and anchor and the Marine motto, "Semper Fidelis" - always faithful.
"The coin design is simple and heroic," said Mint Director Henrietta Holsman Fore. "The Iwo Jima image is the storied symbol of the Marine Corps' heroism, courage, strength and versatility. It exemplifies 'Semper Fidelis' to an appreciative nation every day around the world."
Fore and Marine Corps officials participated in a ceremonial striking of the shiny new dollars on Wednesday at the Philadelphia branch of the U.S. Mint. Proceeds from the sale of the new commemorative coin will go toward building the Marine Corps National Museum in Quantico, Va.
"I can think of no better way to honor our Marine men and women than to capture the proud history and heritage of the Marine Corps in a museum that will forever educate visitors from around the world," said General William L. Nyland, assistant commandant of the Marine Corps, who also took part in the ceremony.
The Marine Corps dates to November 10, 1775, when the Continental Congress met in Philadelphia and passed a resolution saying that "two Battalions of Marines be raised" to serve as landing forces at sea. Their first amphibious raid quickly followed, in the Bahamas, in March 1776.
Congress authorizes two official commemorative coins to be produced by the U.S. Mint each year. For 2005, the two coins are the Marine Corps 230th anniversary silver dollar and the Chief Justice John Marshall silver dollar which was released earlier this year.
The regular price for the proof silver dollar in a presentation case is $39 with the uncirculated silver dollar in a gift box priced at $35. That price includes a $10 surcharge that will go toward building the Marine Corps museum in Quantico. The coins are scheduled to go on sale in July.
Commemorative coins are not minted for general circulation although they are legal tender. They are minted in limited quantity and are available only for a limited time.
Since the modern commemorative coin program began in 1982 with the striking of the George Washington 250th anniversary coin, more than $422 million in surcharges have been raised to help build new museums, maintain national monuments such as the Vietnam War memorial and preserve historical sites such as George Washington's home.
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