Recently updated on October 25th, 2022 at 11:33 am
With 1.3 million active-duty personnel, the US military is one of the greatest fighting forces in the world. It’s also full of proud and time-honored traditions! Case and point?
Challenge coins. Want to learn all about them?
Well, you’re in the right place! Today we’re going through everything you need to know about challenge coins and their fascinating history. Check it out.
What Are Challenge Coins?
Imagine a small, round, specially-minted coin with particular designs on either side. Voila, that’s essentially a challenge coin! They’re usually metallic (although they don’t have to be) and have an emblem or motto on them that’s relevant to the giver and/or recipient.
Challenge coin rules and roles have altered over the years. They’re now handed out for a variety of reasons within many civilian areas of life (more on this later!). In the past, though, they were reserved for military personnel.
Distributed to soldiers as recognition of noteworthy achievements and valor, or symbols of belonging to a specific unit, they’re building blocks of unity, bonds, and brotherhood. Then and now, receiving a challenge coin in some areas of life is an honor that only select people experience.
Challenge Coin History
Many non-military folks have never come across challenge coins before. But their history stretches way back! It’s also a topic of debate.
Some people claim the tradition has its roots in Ancient Rome. Apparently, soldiers who fought bravely were awarded additional payment in the form of a special coin that bore the symbol of their legion. Rather than spending it, many legionnaires held onto it as a keepsake or good-luck charm.
You also hear about an American officer in World War One who gave each pilot in his squadron a medallion with its insignia on it. When one of these pilots was shot down behind enemy lines, this medallion later came to his rescue as proof that he wasn’t a spy.
Who Gives and Receives Challenge Coins?
As we said before, challenge coins started as a military tradition but have been adopted in civilian circles in recent years too. The general idea remains the same though: to acknowledge achievements (of both individuals and teams) and bring people together. However, many different types of challenge coins are now handed out by companies, politicians, and first responders as well.
Many people also collect and trade rare coins as a hobby (much like stamp collecting), creating a challenge coin display in the process. In recent years, there’s also been a rise in businesses using these coins as merchandise and branding tools. You could even create some for your department at work!
Remember These Facts About Challenge Coins
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We all owe a debt of gratitude to the brave men and women in our armed forces. Not only do they risk their lives in service to our country, but they also gift society their long-standing military traditions! Challenge coins are the perfect example of that in action.
We hope this article has shed some light on what they are, where they came from, and what they stand for. To learn more about topics like this, browse the Lifestyle section of the website now.