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Of Memorial Day and Anniversaries
May 27, 2010

There are an increasing number of military-related commemoratives coming down the pike either as planned programs or as proposals in Congress.

Next year offers coins for the Medal of Honor and the founding of the U.S. Army in 1775.

This year the Mint is selling the Veterans Disabled for Life coins.

With Memorial Day on Monday, I have been thinking again that in just a few more years come other significant military events and anniversaries.

We are coming up on the centennial of World War I. It started in 1914 for the major European powers and the U.S. entered the conflict in 1917.

To say this war had an impact on our way of life is an understatement, though time glosses over the horrors. I have a piece of shrapnel taken out of one grandfather who fought in the trenches and photos of my mother decorating war graves as a child on Memorial Day, a regular task undertaken by my other grandfather who came back from France unscathed.

This topic is a sensitive one in the country where much of the fighting and dying occurred. It is not that France does not have a long military history, but according to the head of the Paris Mint, there is a rethinking going on about the wars fought against Germany in the 20th century and whether bringing them up numismatically is a good idea.

No matter what they decide to do or not do in France, I expect there will be much more thinking about this topic here at home and future commemorative coins will be the result.

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About the Author
David C. Harper has been a coin collector since 1963. He joined the Krause Publications editorial staff in 1978 and is currently editor of Numismatic News and World Coin News. He also edits two books annually, North American Coins & Prices and Coin Digest. He is the author of the Class of '63 column that runs each week in Numismatic News. His first bylined numismatic article appeared in the June 1971 issue of Coins Magazine and his various Krause Publications assignments included a stint as editor of the magazine 1980-1983. Harper received a bachelor of science degree from the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh in 1977. He had a double major of journalism and economics.

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