On May 25th, 2011, the Citizens Coinage Advisory Committee met to review and discuss the candidate designs for the 2012 National Infantry Museum and Soldier Center Commemorative Coin Program. In attendance at the meeting were representatives from the National Infantry Foundation: executive director Ben William and Museum Director Zachary Frank Hanner. Also present was Don Everhart, one of the Mint’s senior engravers who had been working with the engravers for these projects.
Ms. Kaarina Budow from the Mint read the citation: “Public Law 110-357, National Infantry Museum and Soldier Center Commemorative Coin Act, requires the Secretary of the Treasury to mint and issue coins in commemoration of the legacy of the United States Army Infantry and the establishment of the National Infantry Museum and Soldier Center.” She continued with a brief history of the Infantry’s role in our military history and of the museum founded to honor and commemorate their actions and sacrifices. Eight of the twelve obverse candidate designs are “inspired by historical images that symbolize the ‘Follow me’ motto of the Infantry by depicting a courageous soldier charging forward and beckoning the troops to follow.” The reverse designs symbolize “the courage, pride and sacrifice of the United States Infantry.” She stated that the Foundation prefers obverse design 3 and 6, and reverse design 1, 3, and 7. Later in the course of the meeting, she added that the Commission of Fine Arts reviewed the designs the previous week, and preferred obverse design 3 and reverse design 7.
Obverse Design Candidates
Once the descriptions of the designs were read by Ms. Budow, the committee began their discussion, starting with Lieutenant Colonel Michael Olson, a member of the Army National Guard. He started his remarks by speaking of the pleasure he saw in that several of the designs “showed confident soldiers, warriors that we can be proud of a lot of these images.” He also pointed out that this coin is intended to honor the Infantry, separate from the Army in general, who already had a coin that is available for sale today. To do that properly, he said, would require “serious consideration” of four specific elements, the first of which is the creed of the Infantry: ‘Follow Me.’ The second element is Iron Mike, the de facto name for the various monuments commemorating servicemen of the United States military. The third is the Combat Infantryman’s Badge, “a very sacred honor and a very proudly worn decoration.” The fourth is the crossed rifles branch insignia. Mr. Olson said he would prefer the Combat Infantryman’s Badge over the crossed rifles branch insignia, “but one or the other needs to be on the coin.”
Reverse Design Candidates
With regards to the coin designs, Mr. Olson found obverse 1 to be “somewhat appealing”, and as the only design that incorporated the creed, he stated he would make a motion to add the creed to whichever design the committee ultimately recommends. Obverse design 2 is “simply a variation” with a uniform from a different time period. He had some issues with the face and hand as they were depicted in obverse design 3, but liked the “aggressiveness” in obverse design 4, and “really liked” obverse design 5, citing that “these soldiers are definitely taking the fight to the enemy.” The position of the hand was also an issue on obverse designs 6 and 7, and obverse design 8 “did not have much interest” in his view. The expression of the face on obverse design 9 reminded him of a “basic training shot” as opposed to a combat situation. Obverse design 10, in his opinion, was “more artistic and less literal”, and thought there were “better choices to be made.” The creed element was not present in obverse design 11, which was not one of his preferred designs; nor was obverse design 12, which showed “some action”, but some of the previous designs “show it a lot better.” The Combat Infantryman’s Badge on reverse design 1 was “very well displayed”, and he thought that many Infantry soldiers would purchase this coin to carry on them, then “pass it down to their descendants.” The eagle on reverse designs 2 and 5 “seems to over-weigh” the badge imagery. He found reverse design 3 to be “a very appealing design”, and while the inclusion of footprints in reverse design 4 highlighted the “very close relationship” between an infantryman and their boots, “it would not be one I would pick” over designs 1 and 3. He did not have a lot of interest in reverse design 6, and found reverse design 7 to be “somewhat of a plain design.”
Arthur Houghton, who was on the phone, was next, and expressed deference to Michael Olson’s views, as well as an interest in the recommended design depicting a contemporary soldier. Mr. Houghton did have a question for Mr. Olson regarding the creed “Follow Me”, who compared it to the Marines’ ‘Semper Fi’. His question was related to his not being sure where those words would fit on his preferred obverse design, number 3. His preference for the reverse designs were for number 1, with its “nice, simple, highly significant design.”
Michael Brown, also attending the meeting via conference call, echoed the comments of Mr. Houghton. He preferred obverse design 3, but did not think that the creed needed to be added to the obverse, being “not sure we need to add more words”. He did not have “any strong preferences” but was “most drawn to” reverse design 1.
Michael Meier was fourth, and indicated that he had decided ahead of time to “listen to the advice and counsel of of Michael Olson and anyone else on the committee who has military experience and the sponsoring organization,” as he was not a military person. He said that he would support obverse designs 3, 6, and 7, as well as reverse design 1 as it is “gaining the most support.”
Mike Ross differed from the previous committee members, and focused on obverse design 5, “because the World War II uniforms emphasize the continuum of service,” also noting that it is the design “where if you look at that coin you know exactly that the phrase that would come to your mind is ‘Follow me.’” Mr. Ross also stated that reverse design 1 would complete the intent of the coin: “anyone who holds that coin would know you’re honoring the Infantry, that ‘Follow Me’ is the main theme based on the picture on the obverse.”
Donald Scarinci was next, and had a completely different take on the obverse designs. He started out with a thanks for allowing all 12 obverse designs to be considered and stated: “they’re 12 very different choices in a lot of ways… I don’t want that to go unnoticed and unmentioned and unappreciated.” He had considerable interest in having the Infantry Museum staff take “a fresher look at design 10”, as it was “a work of art unlike a depiction, a more realistic depiction of soldiers.” The other obverse designs, in his opinion, were “just another soldier on a United States commemorative coin” and would not get “any international attention or any particular note of merit.” He also noted that its design, with its lack of an individual face or expression, better represents the “many, many, many, many, many people” who had served before and who will serve in the future, and provided the coin a degree of “universality.” Obverse design 11 was less appealing to Mr. Scarinci because of its inclusion of “a specific person, a soldier.” He also thought obverse design 9 has ‘artistic merit” with its use of barbed wire. On the reverse designs, he liked designs 4 and 6 paired with obverse 10, making “a powerful piece.” He could see the Commission of Fine Arts’ attraction to obverse design 3 as it is “a depiction of a statue.”
Chairman Gary Marks started his comments by stating that to him, coins are “in fact a two- or three-dimensional sculpture,” and he approaches the designs from that perspective. He complimented the artist who worked on obverse designs 1 and 2, stating “they were very well rendered.” He believed that design 3 “gets us a long way down the road on this idea of capturing the essence of what it is to be an Infantry soldier,” but echoed the previous comment about the need for a more-appropriate facial expression. Design 4 “captures the essence of the moment of bravery, of courage, of strength.“ He liked design 5 a lot, but had concerns regarding design 6, particularly about the two soldiers walking through water. He “really liked” design 7, as it reminded him of a famous World War II poster, but thought design 8 would be more appropriate to reserve for a potential World War I centennial commemorative coin. He liked the use of barbed wire on design 9, but thought the expression on the soldier’s face should have “a little more grit and determination.” While Chairman Marks appreciated the use of mirrored and frosted images for proof designs, he disagreed “mildly” with Mr. Scarinci over designs 10 and 11, commenting that the effect of the unknown soldiers gave his a “sense of vacancy.” He had a further note on design 11, noting the repeated use of the band across the coin, and while design 12 was a “fine design”, the other designs “do a better job of capturing the essence of action in the Infantry.” His favorite reverse design is the first, but agreed with Mr. Ross that the eagles “almost seems to detract from the symbolism that we really want to focus on.” He had concerns about the quantity of elements in design 3, and gave his fellow committee members a reminder to look at the actual size image for a proper representation of how the design will look once it is on the coin. He appreciated the boots as depicted in reverse design 6, but thought it has been used on two recent coins, and that “it’s time to show something other than just feet.” His second-favorite was design 7: “very elegant and very simple.”
Erik Jansen, who was sworn into the committee at the meeting’s opening, followed the chairman. He said the key here, “as other people have said, is energy, gesture and very subtle but real ‘Follow me.’“ He liked designs 5 and 6, but “none of them are just right in terms of the gesture, the multiplicity of soldiers and the energy.” He would “love to love” design 11 if it had more energy; he also liked its “basining and mirror effects.” With regards to the reverse designs, he counted “on Michael [Olson]’s description of the symbology here.” Several of the designs were, in his opinion, “just flat out too busy,” leaving his with designs 1 and 7, but was “fairly indifferent” between the two.
Heidi Wastweet was last to comment. She liked the use of modern uniforms in obverse designs 1 and 2, but had issue with the positioning of the hand in design 1 and with the incused date on design 2, stating that the later should be “raised to give them the most out of our depth.” The proportions used in design 3 were a problem, and compared the soldier image to a mannequin. She liked design 4, calling it “very dynamic,” and she “would have liked to see the modern uniform rather than the old one.” She asked Don Everhart of the Mint about the size of the third character in design 5, who indicated that while it would be visible, the two of them agreed that the space would compliment the rest of the design if it were used as negative space instead. She was concerned about the foreshortening of the arm in design 6, and echoed Chairman Mark’s previous comments about the soldiers walking through water. Proportions were also at issue with design 7, she said, and encouraged the artists to obtain life models to aid in addressing this problem. She thought the gesture shown in design 8 was not as strong as design 4, and had a symbology issue with the “sneaking position” in design 9. She loved the use of polish in design 10, but thinks the gesture falls short. Her take on the band differed from that of Chairman Marks; she sees it as a distinctly American design element, much as French and Polish coins can be discerned by a continuity of elements. The final obverse design had perspective and proportion issues in her view. She indicated she was in support of obverse designs 4 and 11. For the reverse designs, she said that the first was “a clear, safe choice.” She was not in favor of the old-fashioned eagle in the second, as “it doesn’t say anything about what we’re doing here,” and thought that design 3 would look great on a medal but was “way too much on a coin.” She was pleased to see the increased symbology in design 4, but thought design 5 was “too old-fashioned.” She didn’t like the balance and proportion of the boot and lettering in design 6, but said that design 7 was “a nice, clean design.”
After a brief discussion about the Combat Infantryman’s Badge being the one currently awarded, Chairman Marks called on the committee to vote. With the nine participating members (Dr. Doreen Bolger was not present, and there is an open committee seat), each design could receive up to 27 points. The committee voted as follows:
Obverse design votes:
|1||*||6||***** **||11||***** *****|
|4||***** ***** ***||9||**|
|5||***** ***** ****||10||****|
Reverse design votes:
|1||***** ***** ***** ***** ****||5||*|
With the vote, obverse design 5 and reverse design 1 will receive the committee’s recommendation. After the design vote, Heidi Wastweet made a motion to exclude the third smallest character in obverse design 5, which was seconded by Donald Scarinci. Michael Meier commented that the second soldier “needs some company” as the primary character is looking back over his shoulder. Michael Olson added that “there needs to be more than two soldiers on there,” but the third soldier could be silhouetted or have less detail. Erik Jensen commented that its removal would create more negative space, which would draw more attention to the gesture, and Chairman Gary Marks added that the gesture would imply there is someone back there. The measure was voted on and approved 6 to 2, with Arthur Houghton not voting due to illness. Mike Olson had an additional motion to specifically add the phrase ‘Follow Me’ to the coin, but it failed to be seconded by another committee member and it died.