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Coin Of the Month

Uncovering America's Heritage... Coin by Coin

The 1971 Eisenhower Dollar Coin

Hey!  Bill the Mint Buffalo here.  It's July and the HEAT is on.  Perfect time for me to take a break from roaming the plains and tell you about this month's coin.  Its reverse commemorates the first landing of man on the moon.  That happened on July 20, 1969.

Have your parents ever talked about the Apollo 11 moon landing?  Ask them.  They might remember the excitement!

On that amazing day, over 30 years ago, Americans sat glued to their television screens.  Entire campgrounds came to a standstill as vacationers gathered around one lone TV set.  Baseball game announcers gave Apollo 11's whereabouts right alongside the game's play-by-plays.  Parents dragged their sleepy children out of bed.  In one midwestern city, citizens decorated their homes with Christmas lights and cheered from their front porches.

My buffalo pals and I didn't get to watch on TV, but we could sense that something really special, even magical, was happening.  As Neil Armstrong, the first man to walk on the moon said, "That's one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind."

Two years after the moon landing, the government began minting a dollar coin.  It made sense to honor the historic moon landing.  So, an Apollo 11 insignia became the coin's reverse.

But, wait—what about the coin's obverse?  I can't go back to roaming the plains 'til I tell you about that.  Can you guess who's on the front?  (hint: popular post WWII president)

That's right—Dwight D. Eisenhower, also nicknamed "Ike." After a distinguished military career during World War I and World War II, Eisenhower served as president for two terms.  When the popular, optimistic leader died in March 1969, a congressman quickly introduced a proposal to commemorate him on a coin.

The 1971 Eisenhower Dollar Obverse
Obverse:  A handsome profile of Dwight D. Eisenhower. Born in Abilene, Kansas, he graduated from West Point in 1915. He served in important military positions during World War I and World War II. In 1952, he was elected on the Republican ticket to two presidential terms. This was the first dollar coin not minted from silver. Instead, the United States Mint used a blend of copper and nickel.

The 1971 Eisenhower Dollar Reverse
Reverse:  Designed by chief mint engraver Frank Gasparro, the Eisenhower dollar's reverse shows the insignia worn by Apollo 11 astronauts on their historic trip to the moon. On July 20, 1969, Neil Armstrong stepped from the spacecraft "Eagle" to become the first man to walk on the moon.

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