I’d like to brag and proclaim myself one of the first people in this country to complete the 50-state quarter collection, but alas, it’s not true. I am sorry to say that I am still missing Arizona and Alaska. Hmmm, wait a minute! Those two states sound familiar… Could it be those darn McCain-Palin supporters who scooped them all up in a GOP-frenzy? Well, considering the election results last week, I suppose I can expect a flood of them back in circulation any day now!
Today at 2PM, the last state quarter was released to Hawaii residents. There was an official coin release ceremony held downtown today, but I didn’t feel like making the trek when I could just stop off at my nearby Safeway.
Expecting a rush on the final coin of a decade-long search, I was at the bank by 2:15PM. No crowds, nothing. I bought a whole roll! After carefully selecting one for my collection, I wrapped up four of them and mailed them to my mom in Cleveland. She’s turning 82 next month and is an avid collector along with some of her friends. The quarters should arrive this weekend and she’ll be one of the first ones there to have the treasured “last one” (and to think it came from Hawaii too!)
The coin is beautiful: It features Hawaiian monarch King Kamehameha I stretching his hand toward the eight major Hawaiian Islands. The state motto “UA MAU KE EA O KA ‘ĀINA I KA PONO,” (“The life of the land is perpetuated in righteousness”), “Hawaii” and “1959 are inscribed on the coin. We had a contest here like everywhere else. Some people wanted Diamond Head. Some people wanted palm trees and pineapples. Many people wanted to depict the unique history of Hawaii. I believe they made the perfect choice for this coin.
I remember ten years ago when the state quarter program began. My son was one year old. Ten years seemed like an eternity to finish off the collection. I distinctly remember wondering what my son, my life, and life in general would be like when the final coin was minted. I lived in Seattle then and had no idea that I would be picking up the last coin at my local Safeway in Hawaii. I had never even been to Hawaii because I thought it was too far away and too expensive (boy, I sure had that one right!)