All about Challenge coins
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It is a really rare situation where there is a product that has so much sentimental and emotional
value, while at the same time so enticing like challenge coins today.
Being constantly on the move and living my life in a military marriage for more than 15 years
now, I was introduced dozens of times to the people who were presented with a challenge coin
for a number of reasons. I’m aware of the significance having one of those has to them.
So what makes these things so special and why are challenge coins rising in popularity lately?
For the most part, the very knowledge that challenge coins are presented only to them who
showed an extraordinary level of performance is a reason big enough for the people to be proud
to have a coin given to them.
Also, having a custom-minted challenge coin of certain institution or organization is kind of
showing affiliation to some community. It has deeper and emotional value and is even a sign of
prestige in certain situations.
History of Challenge Coins
Origins of challenge coins date back to the World War I and Nazi occupation of European
territories. When the US decided to join the war, one rich lieutenant ordered a batch of challenge coins with engraved US Air Force emblem on them and gave each one of his pilots a coin.
One of the pilots was unlucky enough to have his aircraft gunned down by the Germans on the
battlefield. After he was taken prisoner, Germans stripped him of his belongings. All he had left
on himself was a pouch with a coin in it.
Luckily, he managed to escape and to make it to the other side of the battlefield. When Allied
troops caught him, he presented a coin with the US Air Force emblem engraved on it in order to
prove his allegiance.
Having a coin on himself literally saved his life at that point since the French wanted to execute
him because they were suspicious that he was actually a German spy.
Challenge Coins in Modern Culture
Since the days of World War I are long gone, challenge coins are finding other ways to be used
today. Moreover, they got the adjective challenge for a good reason.
Namely, when a holder of a challenge coin walks into the bar, shows his coin to everyone
present and challenge other holders of the coin to present theirs, the one that has no coin on
him at that moment is to buy a round of drinks for a whole pub.
Coins are not only carried by and distributed within the Army exclusively. Today, lots of other
organizations such as scout troops, college brotherhoods or sports associations are engraving
their own challenge coins for their following to give.
With that being said, making custom challenge coins is nowadays possible for anyone.
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