Armstrong, Glenn Mark Release Of Ohio's New Quarter

DAYTON, Ohio (AP) - Former astronaut Neil Armstrong made a rare public appearance on Monday as he helped mark the release of Ohio's new quarter celebrating the state's aviation pioneers.

Armstrong and former astronaut John Glenn appeared along with Gov. Bob Taft before about 2,000 people -- including hundreds of schoolchildren -- during a ceremony at the United States Air Force Museum.

The U.S. Mint has released five new state quarters each year since 1999. Ohio's coin -- which features the slogan "Birthplace of Aviation Pioneers," an astronaut and a Wright brothers plane -- is the 17th to be released.

Glenn, the first American to orbit the Earth, introduced Armstrong, the first man to walk on the moon.

"To this day, he's the one person on Earth, I'm truly, truly envious of," said Glenn, as the two men embraced each other.

Armstrong told the crowd that Ohio has been at the forefront of progress in flight for the entire century.

"And Ohioans will be delighted that the Ohio quarter recognizes that reality," he said.

He said Ohio and North Carolina have maintained a "friendly feud" over bragging rights for which state was the birthplace of aviation. The Wright brothers invented and developed the airplane in Dayton, but made the first flight in North Carolina.

North Carolina's quarter, which began circulating last April, depicts the Wright brothers' plane in its historic 1903 flight at Kitty Hawk.

"Both states can take justifiable pride in their part in the birth of aviation -- Ohio had the intellect, Carolina had the wind," Armstrong said, drawing laughs from the audience. "Ohioans take considerable pleasure in having selected North Carolina as their partner in this remarkable achievement."

Also attending the ceremony were U.S. Treasurer Rosario Marin and Henrietta Holsman Fore, director of the U.S. Mint.

(Copyright 2002 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)