It marked the beginning of 300-million of the 25-cent pieces which will go into circulation as part of the U.S. Mint’s America the Beautiful Series.
Mark Engler, superintendent of the Homestead National Monument of America, addressed the 2,500 people who attended the service to see the shiny new coins unveiled.
“We’re going to be buying something, we’re going to be in another state or another community, and in the change we get, we’re going to get ourselves a Homestead quarter,” Engler says. “I know how I’m going to feel when I get that quarter. I’m going to be busting at the seems. I’m going to be very proud.”
The coin depicts a homesteader’s cabin, two ears of corn and a water pump. It represents the things homesteaders needed to survive: housing, food and water.
“That quarter in my hand represents much more than the 25 cents it’ll buy me,” Engler says. “It also represents the story of America’s homesteaders and the changes these people not only brought to the United States but really brought to the entire world.”
Lieutenant Governor Mike Foley said it’s very fitting that the Homestead was selected for the America the Beautiful quarter series. He said the impact of the Homestead Act on the development of Nebraska is impossible to overstate.
“The legacy of the Homestead Act of 1862 is all around us today,” Foley says. “The great agricultural fields that grow the world’s food and the industrialization that sparked countless technological innovations and the millions of people throughout the world who were afforded opportunities were all because of the Homestead Act.”
Beatrice High School Vocal group members and the University of Nebraska Scarlet and Cream Singers performed during the quarter launch ceremony.
U.S. Mint Associate Director of Manufacturing Dave Croft said the Homestead quarter design is significant for its depiction of what pioneers needed, to survive.
Pairs of the first minted quarters were presented to the State of Nebraska and the National Park Service. Following the ceremony, each student under 18 received a free Homestead quarter.
A quarter exchange for purchasing the commemorative coins was held in the adjacent BHS auxiliary gym.
By Doug Kennedy, KWBE, Beatrice