Friday, March 11, 2016

 Who would ever have thought that, at 94, one would still be having first time experiences ... ?

... but yesterday Superintendent Tom Leatherman and I were guests of the US Mint in San Francisco. 
We were both invited to "say a few words" at a ceremony created to celebrate the striking of the first silver coin commemorating the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service.  Tom would speak on the park service and then introduce me prior to the actual creation of that first 50 cent coin.  Then, under the supervision of a Mint specialist, I would press the two buttons that controlled the striking of three coins that would roll down for inspection.  The sheer power felt in that process is awesome.  Can't recall the metric tonage involved, but it is truly wondrous!

The imposing building sitting atop one of the great hills overlooking the city offered  one of the most thorough security experiences I've ever been through.  Fort Knox could not have been better guarded.  It proved, however, far more difficult to get out of then in!

After the commemorative coin has been struck, both sides are photographed as seen here being held for the cameras by one "grown-up" park ranger and Chief of Staff Elisa Basnight of the US Mint.

There are roughly 250 employees at the facility, and it was clear to see that diversity and inclusivity issues were faced long ago, and that the ratio of male to female and racial questions are by now non-issues, and that this governmental agency is at the forefront of the march toward full equality in the workplace.

I failed to get his name, but there was an African American worker who approached with a young blond woman co-worker during the informal gathering at the end of the ceremony.  He was totally deaf.  He was also comfortable enough to come over to express his pleasure at my brief comments (through his interpreter) and to not seem hurried or awkward.  It was a great moment for me, too, and added an exclamation point to my sense of the depth of the inclusivity in that governmental agency.

Only question for me was:  How in the world do we have such an impressive agency that does not make coins for distribution, but that only makes commemorative coins that cost 20 cents to make but which sell for $40?   Is that legal?  Is it like that famous President Nixon quote, "... if the president does it it can't be wrong?"

In an article that came out today from one of the members of the press who attended the proceedings, it was stated that the coins will sell for $18 online on the Mint's website.  That's better, but still pretty stilted, right?  My information came from one of the workers in conversation after the ceremony.

Another day, another life experience to savor, and I can't imagine what tomorrow may hold ... .  

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