Any time I’m walking in the streets my eyes are on the ground on the off chance I might find lost or cast-off treasures. They come mostly in the form of interestingly shaped or colored stones, marbles, or coins. Today, I found a coin. It was a fifty piaster coin, half a dinar. As I looked at the coin I got thinking of what was happening in the world, and to me, when this little aluminum bronze and cupronickel disc was beginning its life.
In Amman, the coin was used to pay for two or three falafel sandwiches as the regime in Iran released 52 American hostages who had been held captive for 444 days, and Ronald Reagan was sworn in as President of the United States. Four months later, in Northern Ireland, Bobby Sands died on hunger strike.
On the 13th of May, a young boy clutched the half dinar in his sweaty palm and raced to the shops to buy a kite, while Pope John Paul, II was being shot. His Holiness recovered from his wounds and went on to rule the Catholic Church for twenty-four more years. Mustafa’s kite didn’t fare as well after the wind blew it into the power lines and left it hopelessly tangled and he trudged home to nurse his grief.
At about the same time, I raised my hand to take the oath of allegiance as I joined the US Navy and left my home and family to begin my basic training in Orlando, Florida. After a few months of training, I reported for duty in USS Austin (LPD-4) and set forth on a truly unforgettable adventure.
Spring turned to summer and Lady Diana Spencer became the bride of Charles, Prince of Wales on 29th July. The same day, an elderly woman named Mariam exchanged the coin for some bread to feed her ailing husband who would not live to hear the news of Anwar Sadat’s assassination in Cairo in early October.
Thirty-three years later, walking on Rainbow Street, in Amman this coin and all its history came into my possession. After considering all the history both of us had seen, I decided to release it to continue meeting other people and living through history. I drank my bottled water, grateful for the help of the half dinar coin.
Now that Christmas is in the past, Santa is taking advantage of some well-earned rest while he reads New Yesterdays. If you haven’t gotten your copy yet, use one of the links to get it on it’s way to you now!