Those are questions that Congress may ponder in the weeks and months ahead. Twin bills have been introduced in the Senate and House of Representatives seeking a commemorative silver dollar honoring President John F. Kennedy.
Kennedy, of course, was the last American president to be assassinated. He was young and handsome and had a beautiful wife and two young children. Washington was Camelot reborn and then it all came crashing down on Nov. 22, 1963, with an assassin’s bullets. I was less than two months' shy of my 10th birthday and I have vivid memories on learning the news on the bus ride home from school and finding my mother weeping as she waited for me at the door to the family home.
Within weeks of the assassination, officials decided to pay tribute to the fallen leader with a new circulating half dollar. Congress had to authorize the change from the Franklin design to the new Kennedy design, but in a matter of weeks, a new coin had been designed, refined, put into production, and released into circulation. The coin was wildly popular. I remember my grandmother, who loved Kennedy, hoarding as many as she could.
Today, though, the Kennedy half dollar is one of those unnecessary coins. None has been placed into circulation officially since 2001 and the only way to get each year’s new coins is to buy them from the Mint for a premium. And yet the Mint keeps striking the coin.
In 2015, Kennedy was honored again, this time on a Presidential dollar. Like the Kennedy half dollar, it was intended to be a circulating coin but the Presidential dollars were unwanted by the public, so later coins were struck strictly for collectors and not for circulation.
Now we have legislation seeking a noncirculating silver dollar honoring Kennedy. The proposal has several problems, however.
The coin, intended for release in 2020, is intended to commemorate the centennial of Kennedy’s birth. The problem is that Kennedy was born in May 1917, meaning that if the coin is approved, this “centennial” issue will be released three years after the centennial date. That makes no sense, though Congress has approved similar commemorative coins with weird dating in the past.
The other, even bigger problem is that Congress is pondering a third coin for the same president. That is one coin too many. Why keep returning to the same theme so many times?
Enough is enough. This is bad legislation and it is unnecessary. Congress needs to reject a third John F. Kennedy coin.