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The E-Sylum: Volume 12, Number 44, November 1, 2009, Article 17

CONGRESSIONAL GOLD MEDAL AWARDED TO SENATOR BROOKE

The U .S. Mint issued a press release on Wednesday about the awarding of the latest Congressional Gold Medal. Below are images of the bronze version from the U.S. Mint web site. So why don't they publish an image of the actual gold medal? Can anyone find an image of the gold for us? -Editor

President Obama today presented former U.S. Senator Edward William Brooke III with the Congressional Gold Medal for his unprecedented and enduring service to the Nation. The ceremony was held in the U.S. Capitol Rotunda.

The Congressional Gold Medal, designed and struck by the United States Mint, honors Senator Brooke's pioneering accomplishments in public service. Senator Brooke broke new ground at a time when few African-Americans held state or Federal office. He was the first African-American elected to the U.S. Senate by popular vote, serving with distinction for two terms, from January 3, 1967, to January 3, 1979. During his first term, Brooke was appointed to the President's Commission on Civil Disorders, where his work on discrimination in housing served as the basis for the 1968 Civil Rights Act.

Brooke Congressional Gold Medal obverse Brooke Congressional Gold Medal reverse

The medal's obverse (heads side), designed and sculpted by United States Mint Sculptor-Engraver Don Everhart, features an image of the senator with the inscription EDWARD WILLIAM BROOKE on the right side. The medal's reverse (tails side) depicts the U.S. Capitol Building at the top and the Massachusetts State House at the bottom between two olive branches. The center of the design showcases the inscription AMERICA'S GREATNESS LIES IN ITS WONDROUS DIVERSITY, OUR MAGNIFICENT PLURALISM HAS MADE THIS COUNTRY GREAT, OUR EVER-WIDENING DIVERSITY WILL KEEP US GREAT. Additional inscriptions on the reverse are ACT OF CONGRESS 2008 and MASSACHUSETTS STATE HOUSE. United States Mint Sculptor-Engraver Phebe Hemphill designed and sculpted the medal's reverse.

To read the complete press release, see: Former U.S. Senator Edward William Brooke III Receives Congressional Gold Medal (www.reuters.com/article/pressRelease/idUS208857+28-Oct-2009+PRN20091028)

Coincidentally, I was at a meeting downtown just the day before in a building next to the U.S. Capitol. It would have been interesting to attend a Congressional Gold Medal award ceremony, but I didn't get an invitation. About 500 people were there though, as the next article notes. It appeared on the front page of Thursday's Washington Post

I think it was clever of Don Everhart to place his initials on the subject's jacket as if they were a monogram of sorts, but I'm not sure it works. I have the greatest respect for our Mint designers and their work, and they deserve to sign it. But I wonder if these initials are too big and noticeable. Maybe no one will complain, but I'll bet they wouldn't pass muster on a circulating coin. Or maybe as a numismatist I'm just too detail-oriented; perhaps no one will notice. What do readers think?

And what about Phebe Hemphill's reverse design? I'm not sure if the verbiage was mandated by the authorizing legislation, but it seems very wordy. I think it would be a better medal if the Capitol building was center stage. Readers? -Editor

The crisp cadence of a fife-and-drum corps reverberated through the Capitol Rotunda on Wednesday morning, the august room packed with nearly 500 people craning their necks to see the remarkable tableau arranged on a stage before them.

There sat Edward William Brooke III, who grew up in a segregated neighborhood not far from the Capitol, fought in a segregated Army in World War II and returned to Washington in 1967, the first African American elected to the Senate by popular vote -- and on this day, the recipient of the highest honor Congress can bestow, the Congressional Gold Medal.

Brooke and Obama And there sat President Obama, whose stunning electoral journey to the White House seemed no more improbable than the one made four decades earlier by the 90-year-old man who sat beside him, a black Protestant Republican who won in the overwhelmingly white, Catholic, Democratic state of Massachusetts. After Obama heralded Brooke for a life spent "breaking barriers and bridging divides," the two men embraced tightly. It was a reminder of how much this country has changed in their lifetimes.

To read the complete article, see: An honor for a Senate pioneer (www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/10/28/AR2009102805119.html)

Wayne Homren, Editor

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