Most people know about challenge coins as those small commemorative coins owned by members of the military. The tradition of having special coins made for members of a unit, squadron, or branch of the military has a very long and rich history.
Some stories trace it back all the way to World War I. The tradition of slamming the coin to challenge someone to a round of drinks can be traced back to the Vietnam War.
These special coins were made famous by Presidents of the United States. Starting with Bill Clinton, the President of the United States had a tradition where he would discreetly hand out special coins to certain individuals via a handshake.
What most people are not aware of is that the tradition of having challenge coins has now gone beyond the military. Below are just some of the organizations that have begun to use coins as a symbol for their organization.
Perhaps the most famous examples of non-military coins are those given out by Presidents of the United States (POTUS). Starting with Bill Clinton, Presidents of the United States have been known for handing out special coins.
However, the notion of government officials giving out coins is not limited to the POTUS. Certain people who served as the Vice President (VP) of the United States are also known for handing out coins. The VP coins are almost as prized as those handed out by the POTUS himself.
It’s also been said that challenge coins are given to employees of the CIA or the NSA. This tradition probably comes from the story that spies during World War II would carry with them old French coins as a bona fides during their clandestine meetings. For reasons well within understanding, employees of either agency are not required to bring with them their coins to show membership or employment at either agency.
Police officers and firefighters can relate to the kind of bond that members of the military have with each other. After all, police officers and firefighters share a lot of common ground with one another. They’ve gone through thick and thin with no one else to rely on but each other.
For that reason, police and fire departments throughout the United States have begun to make special challenge coins for their departments. Like their military counterparts, these coins are primarily meant to show membership.
There are also special coins handed out to members of a police or fire department for special service. It serves as a sort of reward of recognition for those whose efforts exemplify the best that a police officer or fire fighter can do for those they serve.
Business organizations have also begun to see the worth of these coins. They give out coins to their employees to make them feel like they’re more than just another cog in the wheel. The coin is supposed to make the employee identify himself more with the organization.
There are plenty of clubs and organizations throughout the United States that have developed a tradition of issuing and trading coins.
Members of the Harley Owners Group (HOG) are issued membership coins which they can carry on their person or their bike.
Members of NASCAR are known and the NFL are also famous for having their own unique set of challenge coins which they trade with each other. In fact, even the Eagle Scouts of America are known to have special challenge coins given to its members, which they freely trade with one another.
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