Several of Connecticut's congressional delegates have revived federal legislation that would create a commemorative coin in honor of the U.S. Coast Guard and help raise funds for the National Coast Guard Museum planned for downtown New London.
Sens. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., and Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., have reintroduced the legislation in the Senate and U.S. Rep. Joe Courtney, D-2nd District, has reintroduced the measure in the House of Representatives. The senators made the announcement on Friday.
"The brave men and women of the United States Coast Guard should be honored for their service and sacrifice, but to our shock and dismay, they represent the only branch of the United States military that is not yet recognized with a national museum," Murphy said in a statement.
"This measure establishes a historic, learning landmark, recognizing the courageous and steadfast service of the Coast Guard to keep our nation and its people safe and secure," Blumenthal said in a statement. "Uniquely among the services the Coast Guard lacks such a museum — an unacceptable lapse."
The House version, sponsored by Courtney, was introduced March 26 and has secured 116 bipartisan cosponsors so far this year.
"This measure would provide a tangible source of support for the National Coast Guard Museum, as well as highlight the critical role that the service plays in our nation's defense. Alongside the efforts of the National Coast Guard Museum Association, I am confident that New London will soon be home to an enduring tribute to the men and women who have served our country with the Coast Guard," Courtney said in a statement.
The legislation would require the U.S. Treasury to create new $5 gold coins, $1 silver coins and half-dollar coins. Congress approves just two commemorative coins per year. The Coast Guard coin would be minted in 2018 and could generate between $2 million to $3 million in revenue, based on revenue from recent coins.
The $5 coins will cost $40, the $1 coins will cost $11, and the half-dollar coins will cost $5.50, according to Murphy's office.
"Persistence is a great quality in life," said John Johnson, referring to the efforts of the two senators and the representative. Johnson is treasurer of the National Coast Guard Museum Association, which is fundraising for the museum.
The coin is expected to be released as the museum is opening, which, Johnson said, will make it in "high demand."
Johnson said the museum association has raised around $25.3 million, with $1.45 million coming in over the past 10 days. He added that "commitments are headed our way in excess of $650,000."
At this point, Johnson said, the museum association is targeting segments of industry. Some of the $1.45 million came from the barge industry, some from water operators and other industry, he said.
Of the $25.3 million, $20 million is a commitment from the state for a pedestrian bridge that will connect to the museum from Water Street.
The entire project is expected to cost $100 million.