Have you ever heard of challenge coins?Nope, these are not shiny objects found in the arcade, nor something you can buy food with. These items are part of a grand tradition, a custom practiced by some organizations and even a powerful unit in the country – the Military.
So what’s the connection of coins with the forces that protect our nation? We’ll walk you through the idea of challenge coins and the concepts surrounding it.
The main idea behind the use of these coins is identity. While companies have identification cards given to their employees, bearing their name, employee number, and signatures, other organizations have these coins that bear their companies insignia, or their coat of arms. Bearers of this coin associate their membership to the organization whose insignia is reflected in the coin.
The history of challenge coins can be traced back decades ago. The earliest users of the coins are the members military, specifically during the World War I. As the soldiers travelled away to the war, uncertain of their futures or prospects of coming back, they kept a coin from their homes as a remembrance of their households, and remained in their pockets as a keepsake after the conflict.
Other stories about the origins of the coin are also present. One of which allegedly took place in Ancient Rome. The coin was a reward for a soldier’s valor. If a soldier performs well in his duties, we will receive his daily wage, with a separate coin as recognition of his good performance. The coin, some say, is emblemed with a special insignia, which is why some people who receive it opt to keep it as a token of their hardwork.
Another story about the origins of the coin talks about the Korean War. A colonel allegedly had coins made for his men to wear during the war. The coins had a hold in the middle, so the soldiers can wear it around their necks.
Truth be told, the history of the challenge coins is very difficult to trace back. But what Is consistent throughout all of the stories is its presence in wars and the military. The coin is generally a symbol of the men’s bravery during the time of war. It is a keepsake, a token of their service to the country. It is their pride as soldiers, their identities as part of a unit. The coins are also a way to identify the members of the unit and avoid infiltration by spies. By using coins, military units are able to weed out potential espionage and remain in confidentiality.
These days, the coin has been adapted as a symbol of identity by many organizations, and has become part of an interesting rite. Simply put, you need to always bring your coin, or you’ll be buying everyone drinks.
That’s the challenge part. When one shows his coin, everyone else who is supposed to be a member of the organization must be able to show their coin to prove their membership. If everyone is able to show their coin, then the challenger must buy everyone drinks. Failure to follow these protocols will result to confiscation of the coin. This activity can be done anywhere and anytime.
This system can help unify the military organization, and obviously a fun way to get some free drinks. It’s amazing to participate in this rite with rich history. Even government officials and presidents of the United States have their own challenge coins. Dignitaries and international partners are also presented a coin as a sign of welcome to the country. Above all, it’s a celebration of service and valor to the country.