Saturday, September 10, 2011

USS Cairo "America the Beautiful®" Coin Unveiling at Vicksburg NMP

Last tuesday marked an historic day for Vicksburg National Military Park and its celebrated ship, USS Cairo. Amongst a crowd of over 2,500 assembled underneath her bow, the Cairo officially became the newest face of the United States Mint's "America the Beautiful" coin collection. Shown above, the coin depicts the famous ship steaming down the Mississippi where she fought in several critical battles for Union control of the western theater of operations, specifically the Vicksburg campaign .

Nearly 2,000 elementary students from area schools were in attendance, including music provided by the Utica Jubilee Singers of Hinds Community College. Dressed in the dark-blue wool uniform of a Union Navy seaman, fifteen year old Sam Andrews, a park VIP pictured below, read a portion of the diary of George Yost describing the sinking of the USS Cairo. Yost was also fifteen when he served aboard the ship. After the ceremony, everyone under the age of 18 received a new Vicksburg Quarter and keepsake case from the Mint. According to Park Ranger Tim Kavanaugh, the coin unveiling witnessed by so many children gave the event "a youthful exuberance."

Park VIP Sam Andrews reads a portion of the diary of George Yost describing the sinking of the USS. Cairo. NPS Photo
The Cairo, an ironclad river gunboat captained by Thomas Selfridge, was sunk by Confederates in the Yazoo River north of Vicksburg on December 12, 1862. She was raised on December 12, 1964 and is on permanent display, along with all artifacts salvaged, at Vicksburg National Military Park.

Vicksburg Visitors & Convention Bureau
This is a historic event for the 150th commemoration of the Civil War and its navies. The coin is the ninth to be released in the series. Special thanks to Tim Kavanaugh for providing the CWN 150 with this information.

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