There’s something special about that glint of metal that makes it a powerful symbol of recognition and honor. The practice of awarding and receiving challenge coins has deep roots in military history.
There are many stories surrounding how and why they came to be. One legend dates back to World War I. It involves an Army Air Corps lieutenant who handed out commemorative coins to his unit before being captured behind enemy lines.
Although it is debatable how challenge coins started, they are widely used in the military as symbols of honor and pride. Their popularity spread during the Second World War, and they have been handed out in all branches of the armed forces since. It is even a common practice for the president to hand out his challenge coins.
Inside the military, these coin-sized medallions are passed during a handshake to show you’re in the club. They’re also used to verify identity, as they often feature the unit logos of specific units.
Outside of the military, these coins are used by law enforcement, fire departments, and sports teams. Businesses even use them to promote their brand or commemorate a particular event. Anyone can create their challenge coins if they have a design in mind and know where to order them.
As the story goes, military challenge coins started in Vietnam when an infantry-run bar would force people to buy them drinks if they didn’t have their challenge coins on them. Then, when a soldier was in combat and came back to base, the coins were handed out to ensure they were telling the truth about their experience in battle. The truth was proven when the soldier brought their coin to an enemy and used it to prove that he had been in battle.
What Are They?
When someone is given a challenge coin, it’s usually as recognition for having achieved something remarkable. They could have left a base, earned a promotion, or even met with a dignitary. It’s not uncommon to find a challenge coin among military and first responders alike, especially those who serve in a unit with a rich history.
The origin of challenge coins isn’t fully known, but plenty of stories surround them.
Regardless of their origins, challenge coins have become integral to the military’s culture and tradition. All branches of the armed forces wear them, and even police departments and fire departments have adopted them.
When you see a service member wearing a challenge coin, they belong to an elite group with the same values and experiences. They’ve been to places where most people only dream of going and seeing things that no one else has. Those shared experiences create a bond that lasts a lifetime, even after someone leaves the service.
Where Can I Buy One?
There are a variety of ways that you can purchase a military challenge coin. Some service members buy them with their own money, while others receive them from their commanders as a form of recognition or for performing a task. They can also be purchased from vendors specializing in creating and selling these coins.
In the past, military challenge coins were given out to boost morale and serve as a means of identification for unit members. They were usually round and featured the unit’s emblem on the front and its members’ names on the back. Today, they are still used to boost morale and show solidarity with one another, but they have also become collectibles for many people.
While they have long been a tradition within the armed forces, these coins are now widely carried by first responders and other organizations. They are a symbol of camaraderie and serve as a reminder of the sacrifices that each person makes to protect and serve their communities.
How Do I Start?
Whether you are a military veteran or a member of the first responder community, it is a good idea to collect challenge coins. They are a great way to show pride in your community and to commemorate special events or milestones. These coins also make unique gifts for any occasion, especially if you know the history behind the coin. Collectors often scour estate sales and military supply shows to find rare and valuable coins.
Military challenge coins have a long history, with some claiming they date back to World War I.
While the military was among the first to use challenge coins, they are now used by all organizations, including police departments, fire departments, schools, private companies, and sports teams. It is common for these groups to hand out their version of the coin as a means of recognition and as a sign of camaraderie. In addition, they can be used to honor exceptional executive or cultural achievements.
Custom coins can be designed with specific logos, messages, and artwork that reflect the company’s brand or commemorate a particular event or achievement. This personal touch makes the coins more meaningful to recipients.