On Oct. 5, President Barack Obama signed into law the Lions Club
International Century of Service Commemorative Coin Act, P.L. 112-181.
The act, first introduced to the House of Representatives as H.R.
2139 by Rep. Peter Roskam, R-Ill., on June 3, 2011, directs the
secretary of the Treasury to mint a maximum of 400,000 silver
commemorative dollars in 2017 in honor of the 100th anniversary of the
founding of the organization.
A Senate version of the bill, S. 1299, was introduced by Sen.
Jerry Moran, R-Kan., June 29, 2011.
Passage of H.R. 2139 in the House occurred Sept. 10, and was
agreed to without amendment by unanimous consent in the Senate on
Sept. 22. It was forwarded to the White House on Sept. 25.
Speaking for the bill on the House floor Sept. 10, Rep. Roskam
said, “Today is a day when we can celebrate accomplishment in the
private sector and in the volunteer sector, and to celebrate a rich
history and a century of accomplishment — accomplishment that is borne
of service to one another.
“I am honored,” he continued, “to serve as the representative for
the Lions Club International headquarters. They’re an organization
that not only ... has an impact here in the United States but has had
an impact around the world. And I would argue that if you have an
impact on vision for children, if you have an impact on vision for
others, you’re not just having an impact on that family but you’re
having a generational impact.
“And so here we are today, celebrating the Lions Club
International as they’re on the cusp of a new century.”
He finished his remarks by stating, “I am pleased to be a part of
this bipartisan effort.”
Legislation sponsors Roskam and Moran, both Lions Club members, as
well as the Lions Club International Special Centennial Planning
Committee, were instrumental in getting the proposal to Capitol Hill,
but the rank-and-file Lions Club members also played a role. According
to Lions Clubs International Division Manager for Public Relations and
Communications Dane LaJoye, “Many, many took the time to contact their
congressional representatives and senators.”
A century of service
Lions Club International was founded in 1917 by Chicago
businessman Melvin Jones.
According to the Lions Club International website at www.LionsClubs.org, Jones told
members of his local business club they should “reach beyond business
issues and address the betterment of their communities and the world.”
An organizational meeting was held June 7, 1917, in Chicago. The
new group took the name of one of the invited groups, the “Association
of Lions Clubs.” A national convention in Dallas followed in October
of that year, where “a constitution, by-laws, objects and a code of
ethics were approved.”
In 1920, the first Lions Club outside the United States was
established in Canada. This was followed by the establishment of a
club in Mexico in 1927.
Today, the Lions boast a presence in more than 207 countries and
geographic areas. An estimated 1.35 million Lions Club individuals
hold membership in more than 46,000 clubs worldwide.
The Lions Club identifies as among its more notable programs
providing funding and volunteer service for programs to improve
eyesight and help eradicate blindness; mentoring children through its
“Leo Program”; and helping communities stricken with natural disasters
by providing for food, water, clothing, medical supplies and aiding in reconstruction.
The Lions Club mission statement is “To empower volunteers to
serve their communities, meet humanitarian needs, encourage peace and
promote international understanding through Lions clubs.”
Commemorative coin for 2017
The Lions Club Commemorative Coin Act calls for “no more than”
400,000 silver coins, of both Proof and Uncirculated finish.
Like other modern U.S. commemorative silver dollars, the Lions
Club commemoratives will weigh 26.73 grams, have a diameter of 1.5
inches, and be composed of 90 percent silver, 10 percent copper. The
coins will be legal tender, though their silver content will far
exceed their face value.
The final design chosen for the coins will be the decision of the
secretary of the Treasury, though the act states this will be done
“after consultation with Lions Clubs International Special Centennial
Planning Committee and the Commission of Fine Arts; and reviewed by
the Citizens Coinage Advisory Committee.”
The coin will bear “a designation of the value of the coin”;
“inscriptions of the words ‘Liberty’, ‘In God We Trust,’ ‘United
States of America’, and ‘E Pluribus Unum’”; the year of issue (2017);
and a design “emblematic of the centennial of the Lions Clubs International.”
If the designs approved for the 2010 Boy Scouts of America and
2012 Girls Scouts of America commemorative coins are any indication,
it is possible that the 2017 Lions Club commemorative coin could
feature the Lions Club International emblem and possibly the club’s
succinct motto, “We Serve.”
The Lions Club emblem consists of a gold letter “L” on a circular
area, bordered by two lion profiles facing away from the center.
According to the organization, the two lions “face both past and
future — showing both pride of heritage and confidence in the future.”
The sale of each commemorative coin will include a $10 surcharge
earmarked for distribution to the secretary of the Lions Club
According to LaJoye, the organization’s current plan is that the
money from the surcharge will fund existing Lions programs. “There are
no new initiatives planned at this time,” he said, but added, “That
could change in the future.”
LaJoye also said it is yet to be determined whether the Lions Club
will be partnering with the U.S. Mint to sell a select portion of the
commemorative coins, such as was done with the Maryland War of 1812
Bicentennial Commission for the 2012 Star-Spangled Banner