US Coins

Monday Morning Brief for Mar. 11, 2024: The Greatest Generation

Commemorative Proof and Uncirculated copper-nickel clad, silver (shown) and gold coins for the “Greatest Generation” went on sale Feb. 29.

Images courtesy of the U.S. Mint.

From what I know about people who were of age during the time when America entered what would become known as World War II in 1945, they didn’t consider themselves the “Greatest Generation.” For the most part, the prevailing attitude was one of people who simply banded together to protect freedom that meant so much to them.

The term “Greatest Generation” is generally used in referring to those born between 1900 and 1920, which meant they also endured the Great Depression during formative stages of their lives. The war just added to their determination to see their collective way through whatever hardship was thrown their way.

U.S. Army James Van Fleet is credited with referring to the men and women who came together in defense of freedom as the “Greatest Generation” during a speech to Congress in 1953. It was 45 years later before the term began to see increased usage, thanks to a book profiling the lives of those citizens, titled The Greatest Generation. They have also been called the “G.I. Generation,” a term that surfaced in the 1970s.

The most recent commemorative coin program is designed to earmark surcharge proceeds for the upkeep and maintenance of a monument that came into existence nearly 60 years after World War II ended. The idea of the National World War II Memorial in Washington, D.C., took nearly 20 years to become reality and it was dedicated 20 years ago in 2004. Now, it is one of the most visited attractions in the nation’s capital, and the stories that are told are for the ages.

This year marks the 80th anniversary of significant conflicts — D-Day (June) and the Battle of the Bulge (December). Special events are planned, and funds raised through sale of coins of the Greatest Generation Commemorative program will play a small role in their success. It’s another reason to have these mementos of honor as a part of a collection.

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