This year marks the end of a specific era in coin design, and with that, 2021 quarter designs seek to bridge the gap between history and new beginnings. Two new designs have entered our currency circulation this year, both holding great symbolism, with depictions that both correct and honor American history.
Of the two new 2021 quarter designs entered into circulation, the first was released in early January. The final design in the America the Beautiful Quarters Program series, first launched in 2010, pays homage to the Tuskegee Airmen National Historic Site. Between the 2021 quarter designs, this one honors a group of America’s more unsung heroes, a mistreated group of pilots and support staff of World War II. This 2021 quarter was designed by Chris Costello, who has worked on prior editions in this series, similar to renowned sculptor Don Everhart.
The Tuskegee Airmen National Historic Site is home to several original structures utilized during the war’s flight training. The only America the Beautiful Quarters Program design released in 2021, as well as the end of a series that lasted more than a decade, this coin depicts a Tuskegee pilot preparing to enter the war. Above the pilot, the caption reads, “They Fought Two Wars,” referring to the bravery displayed by the Tuskegee Airmen. They risked their lives fighting in World War II amid our national fight against racial injustices. Behind the pilot, the audience can see a depiction of the Moton Field control tower.
To further understand the heroism of the Tuskegee Airmen and this particular example of the 2021 quarter designs, it is essential to note the severity of their two wars. Before this point in history, black men were serving in our military but were not welcomed to serve as pilots. This discriminatory legislation was based on the absurd idea that these men were somehow inferior because of the color of their skin. Allowing black men to become pilots at Tuskegee was an act of desperation during World War II. The unbelievably brave Tuskegee Airmen not only took this harsh and unfathomable injustice as an opportunity to prove themselves but rose to the occasion and then some in serving a country that lacked the appropriate appreciation in response to their efforts.
The second of the 2021 quarter designs was first released into circulation in early April. The 2021 George Washington Crossing the Delaware quarter depicts the historic leadership of Washington as he guides his 2,400 soldiers across the freezing Delaware River toward the Battle of Trenton. The coin’s obverse features the recognized Washington portrait designed by John Flanagan that has been struck onto quarters since 1932.
The 1776 Revolutionary War depiction will be issued until 2022 when a new series begins to feature 20 female American icons by 2025. The George Washington Crossing the Delaware coin design was selected from 17 total options by the Treasury Secretary.
The two 2021 quarter designs mark an era of change for the future of American quarters. They signify the completion of the America the Beautiful Quarters Program and are the last two quarter designs before the launch of the female icons series beginning next year