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Wednesday, June 2, 2010

USA state quarters - I

Arizona state quarter
usa arizona state quarter
The Arizona state quarter features the grand canyon on the reverse.The Grand Canyon is a steep-sided gorge carved by the Colorado River in the United States in the state of Arizona. It is largely contained within the Grand Canyon National Park, one of the first national parks in the United States. President Theodore Roosevelt was a major proponent of preservation of the Grand Canyon area, and visited it on numerous occasions to hunt and enjoy the scenery.

The Grand Canyon is 446 km long, ranges in width from 6.4 to 29 km and attains a depth of over a mile. Nearly two billion years of the Earth's geological history have been exposed as the Colorado River and its tributaries cut their channels through layer after layer of rock while the Colorado Plateau was uplifted. While the specific geologic processes and timing that formed the Grand Canyon are the subject of debate by geologists, recent evidence suggests the Colorado River established its course through the canyon at least 17 million years ago.Since that time, the Colorado River continued to erode and form the canyon to the point we see it as today.

Alaska state quarter
usa alaksa state quarter 2006
In 1867, the US senate approved the purchase of Alaska from the Russian empire for a total of 7.2million $ at 2 cents per acre. After going through several processes, Alaska was inducted as the 49th state in 1959. Being in the frigid zone, the region supports little flora and the prime fauna is the polar bear, as shown in the picture. Living is definitely not easy as its climate is classified as Tundra and the population density of Alaska is the lowest among all states of USA. It is another matter that USA benefitted a lot in this deal to buy Alaska as petroleum deposits were found later on in Alaska.

Alaska is also called the great land because of its size. Its area is more than twice the area of Texas, the second largest state.

Alabama state quarter
usa alabama state quarter
The Alabama state quarter pictures Helen Keller on the reverse. Helen was born on 27th June, 1880 in Tuscumbia, a small town in Northern Alabama. When she was 19 months old, she got was left deaf and blind in the wake of some sickness which could have possibly taken her life. Afterwards, Helen turned out to be a very troublesome child and she went about causing all sorts of trouble in her house. Taking care of her was beginning to look like a very arduous task.

When she was 7 years old, she came into contact with Anne Sullivan, who had lost the majority of her eyesight by the age of five. After 1880, she had two operations on here eyes due to which she became able to read and write. Anne worked hard on the troublemaking Helen and gradually Helen's behavior and attitude changed. Then, after a month of Anne's teaching, what the people of the time called a "miracle" occurred.

Helen had until now not yet fully understood the meaning of words. When Anne led her to the water pump on 5 April 1887, all that was about to change.

As Anne pumped the water over Helen's hand , Anne spelled out the word water in the girl's free hand. Something about this explained the meaning of words within Helen, and Anne could immediately see in her face that she finally understood.

Helen's progress from then on was astonishing. Her ability to learn was far in advance of anything that anybody had seen before in someone without sight or hearing. It wasn't long before Anne was teaching Helen to read, firstly with raised letters and later with braille, and to write with both ordinary and braille typewriters.

During her life, Helen and Anne extensively toured countries over the world, and made a good living from the money raised from Helen's lectures and her political views. Helen's expressions were translated line by line by Anne Sullivan and the money raised from the lectures was utilized in the improvement of the lives of disabled people throughout the world.

On June 1, 1968, at Arcan Ridge, Helen Keller died peacefully in her sleep. Helen was cremated in Bridgeport, Connecticut and a funeral service was held at the National Cathedral in Washington DC where the urn containing her ashes would later be deposited next to those of Anne Sullivan.

Today Helen's final resting place is a popular tourist attraction and the bronze plaque erected to commemorate her life has the following inscription written in braille:
"Helen Keller and her beloved companion Anne Sullivan Macy are interred in the columbarium behind this chapel."

So many people have visited the chapel, and touched the braille dots, that the plaque has already had to be replaced twice.

In Helen's own words:
"The public must learn that the blind man is neither genius nor a freak nor an idiot. He has a mind that can be educated, a hand which can be trained, ambitions which it is right for him to strive to realise, and it is the duty of the public to help him make the best of himself so that he can win light through work."

Truly, Helen Keller was the embodiment of the spirit of courage.

Note:The USA state quarter program was started in 1999 in which quarters of all 50 different states were minted and the series was concluded in 2010 with quarters of 5 different islands in 2010. That makes it a set of 55 different coins. The Washington head on the state quarters has been slightly modified from the previous regular issue head. Subsequently a series of quarters based on the different national parks has been started.

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