When is a national park not considered a national park? Apparently when it is being considered as a stamp for a quarter.
The U.S. Mint announced last week it will feature the Chickasaw National Recreation Area on its latest edition of coins representing states. That seemed like a nice gesture. The park, located in Murray County about 85 miles due south from Oklahoma City, is a very popular recreation site for many Oklahomans.
But what irked state officials about the selection is that the park was not the state's first choice. They preferred the new coin be stamped with a feature from the Oklahoma City National Memorial and Museum. The Survivor's Tree, which still stands proudly on the site, was suggested for placement on the quarter.
The U.S. Mint, however, determined the National Memorial did not meet their qualifications as a national park. Although, as Gov. Brad Henry pointed out in a letter to U.S. Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner, the Oklahoma City National Memorial Act signed by President Bill Clinton in 1997 established the memorial as a unit of the National Park Service. And the National Park Service is authorized by law to provide interpretive services at this historic site.
But apparently, that isn't enough for the U.S. Mint. The National Memorial was changed to an affiliate of the National Park Service by President George W. Bush in 2004.
So there you have it. It's George Bush's fault. Or it could be the U.S. Mint thought about what happened the first time Oklahoma was asked to pick a feature for a new state quarter and opted for a bird hardly anyone sees.