Friday, January 16, 2009
FBO: 'Discovers/Questions the North Dakota Quarter'
THERE GOES THE SUN
North Dakota's state quarter came out three years ago. Is it any coincidence that we didn't stumble upon one until early 2009, a few weeks after the FBO's first ever 'North Dakota week'?
Prompted by gut whim, I checked the failed entries for the state quarter and found a curious pattern that NO OTHER STATE had shown: spearing prong-like sun 'rays' that resembles the Japanese Imperial Navy flag during WWII.
The link couldn't be intentional, right? North Dakota isn't tributing the imperial Japanese armed forces, who took millions of lives during WWII?
Shiply speaking, the original USS North Dakota never made it to Japan and stayed way out of harm's way during WWI -- mostly making care-package trips around the Caribbean, then was disassembled before WWII. (A new submarine called the USS North Dakota is currently in construction.) However, the USS South Dakota -- named for the north's mocking rival to the south -- was badly damaged by Japan's Imperial Navy in 1942. That seems bad taste.
Maybe Telephoning Will Help
The Japanese flag -- known as the Rising Sun Flag -- has 16 rays. North Dakota's versions have seven, eight and nine. But a bigger question is whether or not North Dakota's suns depict sunrises or sunsets? The farm shot shows no chimney smoke or stirring creatures to hint at a time, while goose -- it should be noted -- fly at sunrise and sunset. So, no clues. Perhaps the key is the buffalo -- alert, jolly and feasting as the sun dips or rises behind them. Do buffalo wake up at 6am?
So I phoned the Theodore Roosevelt National Park in the southwestern corner of the state, a lovely area with two units of badlands and plenty of wildlife. The operator said 'Mike' would be able to help and transferred me.
I asked Mike if he knew when bison wake up. 'Bison are a daytime animal, unlike deer for example. Most of their activities go on during the day,' he said seriously. 'But that said I'll drive by a group of 200 during the day -- maybe 100 are eating, another 100 laying around, some with eyes shut. They eat and sleep throughout the day.' So they eat dawn to dusk? 'Yup' -- he really said 'yup' -- 'Remember that grass is a low quality food, and they have a big stomach to keep full.'
I mentioned the quarter, and here Mike got particularly interested. 'Let's see, if we had any defining features of the formation behind them, we could figure this out...' He paused. 'We'd probably need to talk with the artist though... Do you know the artist?' I said I didn't. 'You know, if I had to guess -- purely guess -- I'd say it's evening. Very few people out here get up that early.'
If it's good enough for Mike (who was enduring a blizzard at the time), it's good enough for us. The FBO claims that North Dakota's quarter depicts not a 'rising sun' but a falling one, thus isn't tributing the imperial Japanese military. And to be honest, when I visited the Roosevelt Park's North Unit in late spring 2001, the two-lane load reaches it from the east. And that's where most of the bison are. In fact, I had about 60 or 70 immediately surrounding my rental car. An artist heading up there would get the same vantage point of the badlands -- looking west.
-->Perhaps it would have been less confusing if North Dakota went with the Roger Maris quarter, remembering the homerun hero from Fargo.
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