Challenge coins became a significant part of military history in World War II. They have found an important role in the rigorous life of military men who fought for freedom in times of war and aimed to protect in times of peace. They have become prized possessions and symbols of special memories. These small medallions are symbols of unprecedented courage of men and women who faced near-death experiences in different battles to preserve the nation’s independence. They are reminders of their sweat, blood and hard work. They are used to win numerous coin checks which entertained them while stationed in different parts of the country.
Challenge coins have evolved from their traditional uses, designs and purposes. From using currency coins in the past, military officials commissioned manufacturers to make especially-minted coins with specific designs for each military unit. From serving the simple purpose of boosting the morale of enlisted men, they are now awarded to show appreciation even to civilians who support military programs. From being a simple identification tool to avoid spies during covert meetings in the past, they’ve become collectibles worthy of being displayed in the most avid collector’s living room.
Challenge coins have captured the essence of military mission and affiliation. These small, shiny coins are essentially improved versions of identification or business cards for men who unselfishly serve the country against enemies. They are specially-designed for each unit with the images, markings and motto members lived by. They’ve become trademarks of men in service. They represent the hard work to pass difficult trainings and missions. They serve as concrete reminders of achievements or outstanding performance of duties alongside with special plaques of citation and medals of valor.
The long tradition of carrying unit coins is a manifestation of pride, respect and loyalty to the country. These coins become symbols of brotherhood and fraternity. Oftentimes, they are traded, collected, challenged and presented between or among team members. During times of separation, unit members exchanged coins for posterity. They became an emblem of friendship, deep bond, and camaraderie among these men and women.
Throughout their service, military personnel have lots of opportunities to receive challenge coins as recognition for bravery and leadership. Most military branches have coin ceremonies for their cadets and present coins to welcome them in service. These coins are used to reward those who show courage against pressure during missions and for contributions during tactical operations. The presidents of every nation have traditions to welcome and honor heroes of war, with special coins containing the seal of the country.
The popularity of military coins has influenced the law enforcement and firefighter agencies to make their own coin traditions. They use them to award achievers on their ranks and inspire their men to be united and prepared to protect the communities against threats in all forms. Civil Air Patrol and Eagle Scouts also adopted coin presentation in honoring their graduates. Organizations and associations that want to make their events memorable have their own special coins for tokens or rewards. Some of them are National Football League (NFL), National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing (NASCAR) and World Series Poker.
The Utah Symphony and Opera became the first musical group to present customized coins its musicians and staff in year 2007. Graduates of Franklin Public School received coins that feature their mascot “Frankie. Family Trasciatti has their own coin with Italian and American symbols to welcome new members by birth, marriage or adoption.
There is no denying the fact that military challenge coins have greatly inspired people to appreciate the historical and cultural value of even the littlest medallions.
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