When someone gives out challenge coins to another person, the coins are passed on through a “secret handshake.” It can be done as quickly as possible and the ritual can be witnessed by other people. Many civilians are still clueless as to what that ritual means. At the blink of an eye, the age-old military tradition of giving out these custom coins is done. A little, sparkly coin is held inside the palm of someone’s hand, effortlessly ending up in another’s.
Through this “secret handshake” that others are unfamiliar with, members of the military are honored and being given recognition. When a soldier receives a challenge coin, the coin will always be treasured along with their military medals and lustrous certificates, which can be a reminder to future generations of the personal triumphs of a relative who showed bravery and dedication. Custom coins are still hard evidence that a person is a member of an organization, requiring nothing more than just having the coin in his possession to be considered a member for life. In the tradition of the armed forces, soldiers carry the challenge coins with them all the time to help promote camaraderie and build morale.
No one exactly knows where and when the tradition of carrying challenge coins all started. However, what is certain is that almost anyone who wears a military uniform now can immediately show their challenge coin when someone challenges them while drinking in an Officer’s club. When someone slaps a challenge coin onto the bar table, it is customary that everyone else should quickly respond to that move by showing their own challenge coin or pay the consequence of buying a round of drinks.
Collecting Challenge Coins
Today, many people enjoy collecting custom challenge coins, especially if the coin is from a prestigious person. These coins seem to have taken the role of business cards. Any “important” person who works in Washington, DC has created a unique set of challenge coins to give out to others. Likewise, some of these coins represent certain groups.
All custom coins that are linked to the White House are considered by collectors as the best. The US Secret Service can easily be considered as “cool” because of the agency’s many job specialties. Each of its special department that protects the president has a unique coin.
US Secret Service Challenge Coins
The two US Secret Service challenge coins that are difficult to obtain are the Counter Sniper Team challenge coin with two rifles and the Counter Assault Team or CAT challenge coin that features a menacing paw at the front side. These challenge coins are surely valuable items for veteran collectors.
At the top of a collector’s wish list are custom coins from the one who wears the crown. The Presidential coin is one of the rarest challenge coins around.
Former US President George W. Bush awards his challenge coins to wounded soldiers. During his presidency, he used to keep a little pile on top of his desk. If someone carries a coin from him, chances are, this person is wounded in combat and is deserving to have it.
A challenge coin from President Barrack Obama is also difficult to obtain. His reserved stack of custom coins is inside the left front pocket of his pants. He gets one quickly using his left hand before putting it on his right hand in a smooth gesture and then, he starts the “secret handshake.” He developed his delivery over the years after dropping a challenge coin while clumsily giving it to a marine at Joint Base Andrews.
All in all, these coins come in all shapes and sizes, mainly because they serve all sorts of purposes and are made for specific individuals and groups.