Last week, on Nov. 6, 2013, the United States Mint and the National Park Service officially launched the Mount Rushmore National Memorial Quarter honoring the site in South Dakota. The ceremony was held at the National Guard Armory in Custer, just a few miles from Mount Rushmore itself.
Honored guests included Donald "Nick" Clifford and his wife Carolyn. Nick has the distinction of being the last surviving person who actually worked on the sculpting of Mount Rushmore.
Don “Nick” Clifford and his wife Carolyn. Clifford, 92, is the last surviving worker who helped carve the memorial. Mike Unser of CoinNews.net first met Nick in 2006. He is a national treasure.
Nick Clifford was a special guest for the Mount Rushmore Quarter ceremony
Later, David Croft of the U.S. Mint presents a new quarter to Nick Clifford.
Custer Chamber of Commerce Executive Director David Ressler served as master of ceremonies with short speeches offered by Mount Rushmore Superintendent Cheryl A. Schreier and Acting Associate Director for Manufacturing at the United States Mint David Croft.
Custer Chamber of Commerce Executive Director David Ressler
Mount Rushmore Superintendent Cheryl A. Schreier
Acting Associate Director for Manufacturing at the United States Mint David Croft
The ceremony also included a presentation of the colors by the Civil Air Patrol, several patriotic musical performances by the Custer school choir and band, and the Pledge of Allegiance led by students.
Presentation of the colors by the Civil Air Patrol Mount at Rushmore Quarter Ceremony
Custer school choir at Mount Rushmore Quarter Ceremony
Notably absent from the ceremony were high level state and federal elected officials, including the governor, United States senators and the United States representative for South Dakota. Several local elected officials did attend, joining about 2,000 others who were there to watch the formal quarter release.
My brother Mike and I were also lucky enough to attend. Born and raised in South Dakota, Mount Rushmore has always held a special place in our memories. Little did we realize that the ceremony would pull a few heart strings. Perhaps this is why others also made the trip with some coming from across the country and even a few from other nations.
For a few short minutes, everyone collected together to focus their attention on the launch of the quarter that is emblematic of the Shrine of Democracy.
"This new quarter reflects our continued fascination with the majestic Mount Rushmore National Memorial and the enduring legacies of the four leaders whose faces have become one with the Black Hills," said David Croft, Acting Associate Director for Manufacturing at the United States Mint.
The Mount Rushmore quarter is the twentieth coin issued in the America the Beautiful Quarters® Program. The program debuted in 2010 and features five new strikes annually, each honoring a different site of national interest from around the United States and its territories.
This segment by goDakota offers a video of the entire ceremony.
Presented below are some additional photos of the Mount Rushmore National Memorial Quarter ceremony.
A photo of some of the attendees at the ceremony
Another view of those who attended the ceremony
David Croft of the U.S. Mint presents a special plague of quarters to Mount Rushmore Superintendent Cheryl A. Schreier. The quarters are from the first day of production — one from the Denver Mint struck on Aug. 14, 2013 and one from the Philadelphia Mint struck on Aug. 29, 2013.
David Croft of the U.S. Mint hands out Mount Rushmore Quarters
Local NPS official handing out quarters to children as they exit the building.
The Coin Exchange after the ceremony was provided by First Interstate Bank in Custer. Anyone could swap $10 cash for rolls of the new quarters.
Mount Rushmore National Park Quarter Two-Coin Set offered by the Mount Rushmore History Association. Included are two quarters in uncirculated quality. One is from the Denver Mint and one is from the Philadelphia Mint.
A view of Mount Rushmore National Memorial on the day of the quarter ceremony. Snow is melting from the faces as about 5 inches fell on the previous day.