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New Quarters Celebrate The Cultural Legacy Of The San Antonio Missions

When you take your next vacation or business trip, and drop that coin in the hand of a cashier as you pay for your morning coffee, you might also be spreading the word about San Antonio without even realizing it.

A new quarter honoring the San Antonio Missions National Historical Park was unveiled Thursday.

The special coin, depicting on its reverse four icons of the Missions’ history, is the 49th coin in the U.S. Mint’s “America the Beautiful” program. The project began in 2010 to depict national parks and other sites in all 50 states and six U.S. territories.

A presentation of colors at Trinity University’s Laurie Auditorium followed by classical music that depicted life at the Missions set the mood as U.S. Rep. Lloyd Doggett joined other dignitaries to share their thoughts on the Missions’ role in San Antonio history.

Hundreds of people attended the ceremony to see or acquire an uncirculated mint-condition roll of quarters.

Credit Nathan Cone | Texas Public Radio
Acting U.S. Mint Deputy Director Patrick Hernandez and San Antonio Missions NHP Superintendent Mardi Arce display the new design.

Mardi Arce, superintendent of the San Antonio Missions NHP, spoke directly to the scores of children in the audience. “When you look at your San Antonio Missions quarter," she said, "I want you to remember that life at these missions continues, because a mission isn’t just a bunch of buildings. A mission is a community, and the community of San Antonio endures today.”

Arce then asked descendants of some of the original missions’ inhabitants to stand, and the crowd applauded.

Before a ceremonial “coin pour” into a model of the gristmill at Mission San Jose, Acting U.S. Mint Deputy Director Patrick Hernandez acknowledged artist Chris Costello, whose designs have graced more than a dozen U.S. coins and medals.

Hernandez explained the four quadrants of the coin depict life at the Missions, with wheat symbolizing farming, arches and a bell tower symbolizing community, a lion representing Spain, and flowing water representing acequias built during the Spanish colonial era in Texas.

Hernandez added, “The San Antonio Missions quarter serves as a reminder of the importance of diverse people coming together, sharing their skills and heritage, to form self-sustaining, multicultural communities. Come along the journey of the San Antonio Missions quarters, as they pass from hand to hand across the country, in doing what we say — connecting America through coins.”

Nathan has been with TPR since 1995, when he began working on classical music station KPAC 88.3 FM, as host of “Tuesday Night at the Opera.” He soon learned the ropes on KSTX 89.1 FM, and volunteered to work practically any shift that came his way, on either station. He worked in nearly every capacity on the radio before moving into Community Engagement, Marketing, and Digital Media. His reporting and criticism has been honored by the Houston Press Club and Texas Associated Press.