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House passes bill to honor Army infantry with silver dollar
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WASHINGTON - The U.S. House passed legislation Tuesday authorizing a commemorative silver dollar to honor the U.S. Army infantry and help fund the National Infantry Museum and Soldier Center at Georgia's Fort Benning.
The legislation was introduced by Republican Rep. Lynn Westmoreland of Grantville and co-sponsored by Democratic Rep. Sanford Bishop of Albany. It still needs approval from the Senate and faces competition from other commemorative coin proposals.
The infantry coin would sell for $10, with some proceeds going to create an endowment for the Fort Benning museum, which is under construction.
The bill calls for the coin design to demonstrate the courage, pride, sacrifice, sense of duty and history of the Army infantry.
Known as the "Home of the Infantry," Fort Benning is a major Army infantry training base near Columbus, typically home to some 33,000 soldiers.
The National Infantry Foundation is currently raising $70 million for the new museum, designed to educate the public about the role of the Army infantry in U.S. history.
"For more than 200 years, our infantry has defended our lives and our freedom, and no tribute can repay what these soldiers have given their fellow Americans," Westmoreland said.
Congress limits itself to authorizing two commemorative coins per year, honoring the nation's history and culture and raising money for historic sites and monuments such as the Vietnam War Memorial.
Since the modern program began in 1982, the Mint has raised more than $400 million in surcharges. The coins are sold at prices that cover the Treasury's costs.
Past coins have celebrated Civil War battlefields, various Olympic games, the 1994 World Cup soccer tournament and the Statue of Liberty. Last year, the Mint began selling a coin marking the 50th anniversary of the 1957 desegregation of Central High School in Little Rock, Ark.
Earlier this year, the House passed a bill sponsored by Rep. John Lewis of Atlanta to mark the 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act.
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