The presence of custom military coins in this modern age has been greatly popularized by military-themed television shows and movies. And although this has been a widely-known insignia among those in the military field and coin collectors, such remains to be a big mystery for the average Joe.
So what exactly are custom military coins?
These are symbolic representations of membership to a special organization taking the form of a coin, usually an inch and a half to about two inches in diameter. The coin should contain the organization’s crest, and members are traditionally obliged to carry it with them at all times to prove their affiliation with the organization.
By tradition and practice, these custom military coins are given to promote companionship among those in specific military units. These coins may also be in the form of an award to an exemplary member of a unit for his noted achievement and excellence in service. These are awarded through a secret handshake.
Now what appears to be a typical formality, or a show of respect, is actually a customary means by which such coin is passed on. The officer of higher rank is the one to give away the coin, placed on his right hand, onto the right hand of his military subordinate. This handshake is also usually accompanied by a short account as to why the awardee deserved to receive such emblem.
These custom military coins are sometimes known as challenge coins.
How they became known as such is quite interesting. Since is it required that members have their coin with them at all times, the practice of challenging has become the most widely known means to guarantee this.
The challenge, popularly known as a coin check, can occur at any time and at any place. It may commence with the challenger presenting his coin on top of the table. The person who is presented with the challenge must be able to show his organization’s coin right away. If the person challenged is unable to produce his coin, he is required to buy the challenger a couple of drinks. On the other hand, if he is able to present his coin immediately, the challenger would be the one to buy him a round of drinks.
The challenge is not limited to a one-on-one contest. A challenger may even challenge a group. In fact, if in case a possessor of a military coin accidentally drops it, then it is understood that he is challenging everyone in the bar to show their coins. The person or persons challenged who are unable to present their coins are then required to buy the challenger and all the others who have their coins with them a couple of drinks. Then again, if everyone challenged are able to present their coins, then the burden of buying everyone drinks rests upon the challenger. Of course, this challenge is only for those who were awarded with coins, and not just anyone in the military unit.
Such challenge brought about by the possession of these custom military coins also stems from the pride and morale that each member has of their organization. In fact, these coins, exactly like the military, are ranked. Those who possess lower-ranking coins are deemed to buy a drink for those who possess coins of higher ranks. Likewise, the person who has the highest-ranking military coin shall be the one to receive drinks from all holders of lower-ranking coins.
And although this challenge is a wonderful means by which comrades bond, it should not be forgotten what these coins are for – that they are symbolic of a bond of brotherhood that stands that tests of time, and that it is a promise of service to the nation.