Special coin issued in honor of brave infantry
In the past century or so, much has changed for the U.S. military. Certainly, technology has transformed combat into something akin to science fiction. Public attitudes also have changed. Up until just this year, parades and civic accolades for returning troops were a thing of the past.
There may be a reason for that. In 1918 and 1945, there was no question that U.S. troops truly had won the wars overseas. The public sacrificed as well with scrap drives, rationing and volunteering, but the troops coming home were the heroes marching in ticker-tape parades.
Not so with Korea. To this day, that war is still called a “police action” — the most foolish misnomer in military/political history. In the case of Vietnam vets, some came home to people who questioned their purpose and conduct. Grenada was a blip on the radar screen.
Then came Kuwait, Iraq and Afghanistan. Technology delivered detailed coverage and streaming images. On the nightly news, everyone could witness live images of troops under fire and tactical missions taking place in real time. That firsthand insight into what soldiers were up against is invariably why parades and recognition now take place.
Returning troops are quick to admit that distractions help them cope. One way is to take pride in their branch of the service and, of course, deride others. The Army and Navy are prime examples, and the Marines and Air Force. All have reasons to believe they are and always have been “the best.” It’s a fun and beneficial rivalry.
I’d never dare to venture into that fray and don’t care to insult anyone by choosing one military branch over another. That being said, there’s no type of warrior I have more respect for than those in the infantry, no matter which branch they come from.
Consider their reality. After the bombs have been dropped, artillery shelled and missiles fired, it’s the infantry soldier who walks into the rifle sights of the enemy. It’s been that way since before the Revolution, through D-day and continuing today. That level of courage is herculean and unknown to most of us.
Evidently, the U.S. Mint feels the same, given a new commemorative coin issued expressly for the infantry. In the words of the Mint, “[T]he infantry has borne the brunt of sacrifice for securing and protecting the freedoms of this nation, our friends and allies. The infantry is the ‘boots on the ground’ . . . and owns the last 100 yards of the battlefield.”
It’s hard to say it better than that. In recognition of that dedication and sacrifice, the Mint has issued the commemorative Infantry Soldier Silver Dollar. The obverse features an image of an infantry soldier advancing with his rifle and signaling other troops to follow. On the reverse is the familiar crossed-rifle insignia recognized internationally as the indicia of the infantry.
Like most commemorative coins, the Infantry Soldier Silver Dollar is being sold in proof and uncirculated condition for $49.95 and $44.95, respectively.
In addition, the Mint is offering the proof version in a “Defenders of Freedom” set that comes in a folder including a replica of a dog tag on a short chain and other printed information. It’s an inventive way for the coin to be presented. It sells for $51.95.
The silver dollar coins, in all forms, are currently available from the U.S. Mint. For more information or to order the coins, go to Usmint.gov. An early-buyer discount is in effect until March 19; after that date, the price for each coin will increase by $5.
Even more interesting and appropriate, just two weeks ago, 200 Army infantry graduates were each given one of the coins after the graduation ceremony at Fort Benning, Ga. That should happen much more. In fact, I’d advocate that it makes sense to reserve for future graduates at least 100,000 of the 350,000 coins minted. After all, who deserves them more?
And, of course, they could be a nice tribute to a returning soldier you may know. It may not be a parade, but a nice gesture nevertheless. Just a thought.