Being chosen to be a part of the Armed Forces of any country is both an honor and a privilege. Those serving in the U.S. army are particularly known for holding strong ties with their comrades and of building special traditions with their military brothers and sisters.
One of the notable forms of unity within their ranks is their practice of carrying their challenge coins or medallions. These special tokens often carry the insignia and motto of their organization, thus, making these items unique and special to those who own the items. This means that while the many coin manufacturers may already be able to afford the ordinary citizen with the opportunity to have their own custom coins, the actual significance and tradition of these coins is still a mystery for many civilians.
Presidential Challenge Coins
Bill Clinton was the first president of the United States who was known to have his own challenge coins. Among the former Vice Presidents, Dick Cheney was the one recognized to have started the tradition. The Secretary of Defense also carries his own challenge coins, and it is a great honor for any one of the troops to receive this coin while serving his country.
Unlike the military challenge coins that usually have one design for every unit, the presidential and vice presidential coins are usually specially designed to commemorate certain significant events. Several custom coins are minted to celebrate either the actual administration as well as the first inauguration. Other designs bearing the insignia of the White House, Washington D.C., the military, as well as Air Force One and Marine One are also made available to the civilian population and circulated in gift shops around the country.
However, one special coin, which only a select few could ever hope to receive is the custom coin that the president hands out using his secret handshake. Since it is only given out during close interactions with the U.S. president, it is considered as one of the rarest custom coins that you could ever hope to own. Though the president can give out his coins to anyone that he wants, the coins usually find themselves in the hands of foreign dignitaries, U.S. military, and the lucky few who happen to shake hands with the most powerful man in the world during a special occasion.
The Secret Handshake
While the act of passing one challenge coin to another person is not a remarkable thing in and of itself, the fact that the act is concealed as a simple handshake is what makes it truly special. The ritual of the secret handshake will not likely be noticed by the civilian public since it usually happens too quickly. However, those who are privy with the secrets of the Presidential coin would quickly notice when custom coins have been handed out.
The secret handshake is usually conducted in plain sight and even with a large group watching. However, since the act is meant to be secretive in nature, the coins are usually transferred from palm to palm in the blink of an eye.
The select few who receive the coins in a secret handshake will forever hold an important memento that they can proudly display to signify their ties with their brothers and their service to their country. Upon receiving the coins, they will be known as lifetime members and they can easily pass these on as heirloom pieces to their children.
Collecting White House Challenge Coins
The appearance of various coin manufacturers has made it possible for almost anyone to design their own personal challenge coin. In fact, many of the more well-known members of the White House staff have begun using challenge coins in place of business cards and passing these out to their associates. While these coins are nowhere near as prestigious as the presidential challenge coin, they do make nice additions to any avid fan’s coin collection.
Of all the military coins that you could hope to own, those belonging to the U.S. Secret Service, the Air Force One, and the Marine One are among the most prized pieces. These coins are particularly difficult to find and any one of these rare coins can easily become the star of your collection. Though nothing will beat the thrill of receiving the coin directly through a secret handshake, you can easily have a custom coin made for a cheap price in the meantime.