United States involvement in World War I has never been memorialized on a coin from the U.S. Mint. New legislation recently introduced seeks to address that by requiring the Secretary of the Treasury to strike silver dollars in commemoration of the centennial of World War I.
The bill, H.R. 2366, is entitled the World War I American Veterans Centennial Commemorative Coin Act. It was introduced in the House of Representatives on June 13, 2013 by Rep. Doug Lamborn (R-CO) with Rep. Emanuel Cleaver (D-MO) cosponsoring.
Under the terms of the legislation, up to 350,000 silver dollars in proof and uncirculated qualities would be struck with designs emblematic of the centennial of America’s involvement in World War I. The commemoratives coins would be issued in 2018 to honor the 100th anniversary of the signing of the armistice with Germany which ended World War I.
Previous commemorative coins produced by the U.S. Mint have acknowledged the United States’ involvement in other military conflicts, including the American Civil War, World War II, the Korean War and the Vietnam War. However, no commemorative has ever been issued to honor the veterans of the First World War.
World War I was fought predominantly on the European continent. Hostilities tied to the conflict started in 1914 but the United States did not officially enter the war until 1917. The armistice ending it was signed on November 11, 1918.
It is estimated that more than four million men and women from the United States served in uniform during World War I. Of those, two million soldiers served overseas. Worldwide, over nine million soldiers lost their lives in the war.
The World War I American Veterans Centennial Commemorative Coin Act calls for a design competition to decide both the obverse and reverse imagery for the commemorative coins. An award for the winning design of no less than $5,000 would be offered. That winning design would get selected by an expert jury chaired by the Secretary of the Treasury along with 3 members from the Citizens Coinage Advisory Committee and 3 members from the Commission of Fine Arts.
Surcharges of $10 for the sale of each silver dollar are outlined in the legislation. These surcharges would be forwarded to the World War I Centennial Commission.
A similar bill was introduced last year in the House of Representatives but it died in committee. The newest version has been referred to House Committee on Financial Services. For the World War I American Veterans Centennial Commemorative Coin Act to become law, it must pass both chambers of Congress and get signed by the President of the United States.