Challenge coins have a rich history, especially in the military, and have evolved over many years. These small-sized medallions have their origin traced back to the period of civilizations from the Roman Empire to the U.S colonials. Challenge coins are usually gold, bronze, nickel, or copper and symbolize a special unit. They are a part of the military culture and provide an excellent way for active members and veterans to connect.
Challenge coins can be circular, pentagon, and spade shape, or can be in the form of tags to be used around the neck. Military members use these medallions for identity allegiance, appreciation and to boost morale. If you’re interested in learning more about challenge coins, here are five historical facts about military challenge coins to understand first.
Challenge Coins Can Mark History in the Military
When a person in the military unit presents a challenge coin for their group, it could mark or create history. Anyone who receives the medallion has a special tie to the ceremony or event depicted on the challenge coin, making those involved feel uniquely connected to a special group of people. Retirees and top-ranking military officers usually display several coins, ribbons, and uniform patches in their offices as a sign of pride.
Challenge Coins are Used in Recruitment
Challenge coins can also be used as a recruitment tool to enroll new members in the military and outside events. They are presented during handshake as a way to welcome new members to a particular group or organization. Ideally, challenge coins offer a symbolic meaning of alliance and achievement to be accomplished by becoming a member of a unit. These groups could be military units, fire departments, various organizations, or even secret societies. Historically, challenge coins were designed to be used in the military, but nowadays, they are used in almost every civilian event and all recruitment processes.
Military Challenge Coins Come in Different Types and Shapes
If you’re lucky enough to attend a military supply show, you will notice that there are multiple display cases depicting challenge coins. They all have their own story and are usually connected to the history of a specific unit, mission, or organization. Furthermore, these coins have considerably evolved, and offices can easily produce several to distribute to all members.
Military challenge coins are made of various materials; the rare ones are made of gold, and others are designed of cheap zinc and brass. Keep in mind that some military challenge coins will be rare, and this is because they are used to commemorate a few special events. As such, only a few of them have been produced.
Many Presidents and Vice Presidents Have a Special Military Challenge Coin
Almost every president and vice presidents have their own coins. President Bill Clinton and vice president Dick Cheney were the first leaders to create and use challenge coins outside the military. There are a few types of presidential challenge coins; one that honors the president’s administration marks the inauguration, and the other for the general public. The president can present a challenge coin to whoever he wishes, but they are often withheld for special events, foreign dignitaries, and military personnel. Some presidents will award the coins to civilians who have significantly contributed to the nation.
History Enthusiasts Have Deep Love for Military Challenge Coins
If you’re a history buff, you probably know that challenge coins were handed over during colonization after a solder or a member of a particular unit returned from a serious battle. However, after some time, the coins were phased out with other symbols and resurfaced later during the First World War when the lieutenant re-created them for his service.