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.
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.
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.
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.