Jeffrey LaPlante traveled to Moravia, NY on February 18th, 2010 to attend the Millard Fillmore Presidential Dollar coin launch ceremony. He's written an extensive article on the experience and interesting facts about the life and times of President Fillmore. Here are some excerpts.
On February 18th 2010 United States Mint Assistant Director Andy Brunhart and the citizens of Moravia, NY, and environs, descended on the tiny hamlet of four thousand to honor our 13th President with the newest United States one dollar coin. Moravia is the closest town to Fillmore's birthplace with a high school cafeteria able to hold the event.
Fillmore was born in nearby Locke, NY (which is now known as Summerhill) on the 7th day of February in the year of our lord 1800. I took the trip down to Moravia from Rochester, along with a few members of the Rochester Numismatic Association. The drive is about two hours in length on rambling country roads and county byways. The scenery is breathtaking and one would think they were in rural Vermont or Pennsylvania rather than in the New York of skyscrapers and tarmac.
I arrived in town at 9:35 AM having just driven the 100 miles alone and at peace, but now to my surprise there was a long line of cars moving slowly to the entrance of the High School. I was motioned by a policeman to turn left into the lot and had to search around to find a place to park.
It was a good thing I arrived at the precise time I did because there was a long line of people waiting to get in, I just barely did before they closed off the cafeteria and placed speakers out in the corridor.
Master of Ceremonies John Haight discussed Robert J. Scarry, a local history teacher and Millard Fillmore crusader. It was an interesting talk but at times I wondered if the ceremony was to deliver the Millard Fillmore Dollar or to honor Robert Scarry.
In short order United States Mint Director Andy Brunhart was introduced and he, thankfully stepped to the podium and said, "it seems most of my speech has been delivered previously and so I promise you we will be done when the second hand of that clock (points to the cafeteria clock in the back wall) reaches 15 after." I looked and as one the whole crowd craned their necks saw it was mere ten minutes away and a collective groan was stifled.
Asst. Director Brunhart discussed the United States Mint, the new dollars, threw a platitude Fillmore's way and then introduced two young children, to the podium where he said, "Now the moment we have been waiting for, the official dollar pour." Brunhart and the two children picked up a wash bucket sized barrel and poured out approximately 250 shiny new Millard Fillmore dollars and said, "we hereby dedicate the Millard Fillmore dollar." and the ceremony was over.
I want to thank Genevieve Billia and also the United States Mint as this was more than I could have hoped for, our American history is a great one; and coin collecting is a microcosm of that history. It leads into the nooks and crannies of our societies past and if you take the time to look further than the price list you will find stories to enlighten and enjoy.
Assistant Director Brunhart was considerate, accessible, and a gentleman. Refreshing in this day of hurried bureaucrats who are more scared of the public they serve, and more worried about keeping their job, instead of doing that job. The United States Mint team looked like they were really enjoying themselves and the folks of Moravia. The ceremony was a small town, one Post Office affair, a town filled with very nice folks, where likely the Postmaster knows just about everyone.
Thanks for the great first-person account! Local newspaper The Citizen published a nice account of the ceremonies as well.
With close to 1,000 witnesses watching, a young Millard Fillmore impersonator and his equally sprite make-believe wife Abigail poured from a wooden bucket a stream of coins bearing the face of the 13th president and Moravia native.
The United States Mint Thursday released its 13th presidential dollar coin, honoring Millard Fillmore, at a ceremony in the Moravia Junior Senior School cafeteria, which was not large enough to accommodate the crowd of community members who had come to celebrate a president whose national legacy is not legendary, but whose roots are their roots.
"This is a grand, grand event," Moravia Mayor Gary Mulvaney said, as he waited in a line that started at the cafeteria doors and wound through the school.
A separate coin release was held in Buffalo, where Fillmore is buried. As outlined by the Wall Street Journal Thursday, Buffalo wanted to host the official U.S. Mint event, but was passed over for the site of Fillmore's beginning.
The U.S. Mint holds its presidential coin release events at a place of historic significance to each president for exactly that reason demonstrated by the hundreds of people who came to see Fillmore's coin - the connection a group of people feel to those who lived there before them, said Andrew D. Brunhart, deputy director of the U.S. Mint.
"When we come to a person's home state and remember and recognize their history it rejuvenates and refreshes all of us on their contributions to our nation," said Brunhart.
Brunhart said he has seen crowds as large as 5,000 and as small as 70. Thursday's turnout was evidence that Fillmore is an important part of the area's culture that residents greatly value.
After the ceremony concluded, the crowd shifted to tables where children could claim their own Fillmore coin for free and adults could purchase them, which they did, leaving with multiple $10 rolls.
To read the complete article, see:
Moravia celebrates Fillmore coin release
Wayne Homren, Editor
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