What Is a Challenge Coin? A Fascinating History of Military Chal - TulsaCW.com: TV To Talk About | The Tulsa CW

What Is a Challenge Coin? A Fascinating History of Military Challenge Coins


challenge coin

Do you have a special event coming up? Maybe you’re looking for a unique way to reward your employees or recognize first responders.

You’ll want to take a long look at challenge coins. What is a challenge coin? These small coins have been used in the military for hundreds of years. Presidents use them to recognize outstanding service.

It’s a coin, but it carries a huge amount of significance for people who receive them. Are you ready to learn all about challenge coins?

Let’s get started!

The Interesting History of Challenge Coins

If you ask a dozen people how challenge coins started, you’ll get a dozen different answers. There are a couple of widely accepted stories as to how they started. They may be true. They may be just legendary stories.

What we do know for sure is that challenge coins were used by Roman armies to pay soldiers for their work in battle. Some coins have been found with military insignia, indicating that special coins were used to give soldiers a reward.

The most recent history of the challenge coin began during World War I. A group of American pilots went to Europe to fight with the French army. One of those pilots was somewhat wealthy and he had coins made with the unit’s emblem.

He gave those coins out to his unit and he kept one for himself. Wouldn’t you know, he was shot down by the Germans and captured. The American soldier had everything taken from him, except his coin.

He later escaped the Germans and found himself in a French village. The locals first thought he was a German spy and were ready to kill him. One of the people in the village was a French soldier.

The American took out his coin, which the Frenchman recognized and was able to convince the villagers that the American was in fact on their side. The American’s life was spared.

That’s quite a story, which no one has been able to prove as of yet.

Challenge coins were later used by units in the Korean War and the military challenge coins became very common by the early 1980s.

Why Challenge Coins?

How did challenge coins get to be called challenge coins? It started when a bunch of military guys walked into a bar.

That sounds a lot like the beginning of a bad joke, but it’s the beginning of the challenge coin tradition. When service members would hit the bar, one member of the group would put his challenge coin on the table.

At that point, the challenge begins. Everyone else in the group had to show their challenge coins and put them on the table.

What if someone left their challenge coin at home or didn’t get one? Well, the next round is on them. If everyone in the group shows their coins, then the next round is on the person who started the challenge.

Challenge Coins Today

Challenge coins have made their way out of the military to the mainstream. Corporations, government organizations have jumped on the challenge coin bandwagon.

President Trump had one created to commemorate his historic summit with Kim Jong-Un of North Korea.

Businesses use them to reward groups who performed above and beyond expectations. They create camaraderie and exclusivity in the organization. It’s like having a challenge coin means that you’re a part of an elite group.

They can also be used as promotional items. Businesses will put their logo on them and use them as giveaways to the best customers. They may use them to get the word out about a new product by putting the product logo on the coin.

Nonprofit organizations like the American Heart Association have embraced challenge coins. They are used to increase awareness of a cause. The AMA created challenge coins as a way for people to thank first responders for their work and dedication.

People of faith have created challenge coins as a reminder to turn to a higher power for peace and strength during everyday challenges. You just keep it in your pocket and its very presence will help guide you throughout the day.

Get Your Own Challenge Coins

Are you sold on how challenge coins can impact your organization? How can you go about getting one? First, you have to decide on the purpose of the challenge coin.

When you decide the purpose of the coin, you’ll want to pick the size of the challenge coin. Most challenge coins are about 2 inches in diameter. They can be a circular coin or you can use a different shape for your coin.

You want the coin to fit with your purpose and your brand. It’ll be much easier to decide the colors and the shape based on your logo. If you have a rounded logo, a round coin may be your best option. A logo with sharp angles would look better on a rectangular coin.

You’ll want to draw out some samples and decide which one looks the best.

What is a Challenge Coin? A Way to Show Respect

How would you like to reward and recognize the best in people? Challenge coins can do that, and so much more.

What is a challenge coin? They’re coins with a logo or emblem that means something. They may bring a group together, reward a team for an excellent job, or bring awareness to a cause.

Whatever you decide to use a challenge coin for, you want to make sure that you get the right coin for your purpose. You want it to stand out, but you also want it to be used and carried. That’s how you’ll create teamwork, camaraderie, and let people know they’re very special.

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