The History of Challenge Coins: A Complete Guide - TV To Talk About | The Tulsa CW

The History of Challenge Coins: A Complete Guide



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Have you ever seen a military veteran’s honorable display of coins? What do these coins mean? Why do these little tokens have so much significance, and where did they even come from?

If you’re looking for answers, then you’ve come to the right place. Read on to get a full overview of the history of challenge coins.

What Are Challenge Coins?

Challenge coins are unique tokens that symbolize service within a specific organization. They’re used to recognize a member’s participation in a unit, group, or event.

Most often, these coins are metal and bear the insignia of the organization.

What types of groups use challenge coins? Here are a few:

  • Army
  • Navy
  • Air Force
  • Marines
  • Police departments
  • Firefighters
  • Corporations

While these groups use challenge coins the most, anyone can craft custom coins for an event. AA is well-known for creating benchmark coins that mean a lot to members.

Could you envision crafting a coin for your next family reunion or company party?

The History of Challenge Coins

How did these unique tokens become a trend? When did the military coin tradition begin?

According to historians, the history of challenge coins is unclear. There’s a lot of debate swirling around the origins of commemorative coins.

The most accepted narrative is that these coins began during WWI. During the draft, one lieutenant made bronze coins for his unit. One of his men got captured by the Germans, but the soldier escaped.

Upon meeting French allies, the soldier used his coin as proof that he was an American. This proof saved the soldier’s life.

Another compelling version says the coins became common during the Vietnam war.

A bar, run by infantrymen, would only serve those who proved their service. Proof came in the form of either enemy bullets, weaponry, or a coin.

Either way, these coins became ingrained within the military over time. Now, they’re often given out by Presidents, Congressmen, and other notable figures.

What Does a Challenge Coin Mean?

You’ve likely seen one, but do you understand what military challenge coins mean? Each coin represents many things to a military member.

If you see a person with Army challenge coins, then ask them what they mean to them. They’re likely to tell you the coin shows:

  • Loyalty to the American military and government
  • The person’s sacrifice and service
  • Dedication towards their fellow servicemen
  • Achievement and bravery during their service

Outside of the scope of the military, coins represent loyalty and achievement. It could mean staying sober for months, or it could show solidarity with a company or group.

Now You Know: Respect the Coin

What are your thoughts on challenge coins? Learning about the history of challenge coins only makes these tokens more impressive. The next time a vet shows you their display, be sure to show your appreciation.

Are you interested in staying up-to-date with the latest trends and news? If so, then navigate over to our trending section for our newest content.

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