Custom challenge coins can be designed for any reason or organization. Recognize excellence among your firefighters with challenge coins.
Challenge coins stand out as one of the most personal and meaningful ways to bring people together and recognize excellence. There’s a long history behind the idea of a challenge coin, and that history contributes to the significance we feel when we receive one.
We’re going to take a look at the origins of the challenge coin today, following through to why coins are excellent options for firefighters and teams. Coins recognize and reward respected individuals and build tighter teams.
Let’s explore why that is.
Why Are Challenge Coins Important?
People use challenge coins in almost every level of the military, firefighting, policing, and other categories of service. In reality, you could give a challenge coin to any member of any team and it would hold significance.
That said, challenge coins originated in the armed forces, and they’ve extended through the military and into our domestic forces like fire rescue teams and the police.
It all started at the beginning of World War One.
In those days, the idea of working and fighting with people out of your demographic was more unusual. People were more stratified, and class differences were stark.
That made for some uncomfortable relationships among men who were tasked to fight for their country. In light of that, one Airforce member with a little extra money had gold medallions made for his squadron.
The First Group Coins
The idea of coins to recognize a military group might have existed at various points throughout history, but legend has it that this was the first recognized instance in the United States.
The coins were unique, and the men took to them right away. Everyone was happy to be a part of the squadron with the gold coins, and they showed them off to whoever they could.
They vouched to keep the coins on their person at all times.
Eventually, the men left for Europe and entered battle. At one point, one of the pilots in the squadron got shot down above Germany. He managed to survive the crash.
Although he survived, he got captured by German soldiers and held hostage. He was either going to get tortured or killed, as he was tied up in a German building awaiting his fate. The building he was in got demolished in battle, though, and he managed to escape his captors.
He made his way to the French border, disguising himself in German military clothing.
The Coin Saves The Day
He managed to get across No Man’s Land unscathed, but he was wearing a German uniform, so he was captured once again. The French soldiers had no way of knowing that the man wasn’t a spy.
He appeared like a German soldier, but he spoke perfect English and claimed to be an American. The soldiers couldn’t afford to take chances, though, so the man’s outcome looked pretty bleak.
Suddenly, a man who was reviewing the soldier’s personal possessions noticed the coin. He recognized the coin, as an American soldier had shown him one, and explained its significance. This was the sign they needed that the man was indeed telling the truth.
He was set free, and it was the coin that saved his life.
Challenge Coins for Firefighters
The legend of the coin has spread throughout the years, and the culture surrounding the coin has changed a great deal. The idea of the “challenge,” though, is that the individual should always have their coin on hand.
Another member of the group can challenge the person to present the coin, and they’re required to do something embarrassing if they don’t have it. That, or they buy a round of drinks for everyone.
The reason that the coin is so effective for firefighters and other service members, though, is that it ties people together. It’s a unique emblem of the group that you risk your life with.
You can adjust different coins to represent different levels of excellence. For example, an ornate challenge coin might get granted to someone who’s saved another person’s life.
The same could be said about someone who shows some other kind of exemplary bravery.
Choosing and Designing Coins for Fire Rescue
If you’re at a loss for the coins to choose or where to look, note that there are a lot of options.
You don’t necessarily have to design the coin yourself. You can choose challenge coins for firefighters that have been designed, or request slight adjustments to the wording or the imagery.
Established coins are created in honor of firefighters, and you might find that there’s nothing wrong with the options that already exist. You do have the option to customize the coins, though, and that adds a little more meaning.
If you do happen to give coins to your team, be sure to explain the significance. The idea is that there’s something that you have on your person at all times, and it’s representative of the commitment that you all share.
When someone happens to slip up and forget their coin, create some rules on what that person might have to do. Maybe they do a funny dance, sing a silly song, or buy coffee for everyone that day.
The coin engages people and allows them to participate in the culture of the team at all times. It’s something that’s brought people together and solidified their bravery for decades.
If you ask someone who’s served in any kind of public service what their most prized possession is, you’ll often find that it’s the challenge coin. It’s the thing that represents their team, their unit, and the mutual dedication they all gave to the cause.
Want to Learn More About Challenge Coins?
There’s a lot more to learn about the history and use of challenge coins. If you want to bring your firefighters together with something special, learn more about your challenge coin options to make the right choice.
We’re here to help you with more information. Explore our site for more ideas on how to recognize and reward with challenge coins.