When it comes to custom challenge coins, none rank higher than a presidential challenge coin. Most often presented by the Commander in Chief to members of the U.S. Armed Forces, the coin ensures the recipient likely won’t have to buy a drink again among his or her peers.
Presidential coins date to the Clinton administration, although custom challenge coins among military personnel dates back much further.
Since their introduction in the early to mid-20th century, military challenge coins have become a treasured part of U.S. military lore. They’re now common in every branch of the U.S. military.
President Bill Clinton introduced the first presidential challenge coins in the 1990s. Every president and vice president since then has had their own custom coins struck. They present the coins to heads of state, diplomats and enlisted service members.
On October 29, 2021, President Joe Biden presented a presidential coin to Pope Francis during their meeting at the Vatican. Biden described the coin as a “command coin” that the president gives to warriors and leaders. He went on to call the pope “the most significant warrior for peace I’ve ever met.”
A Low-Key Presentation
Other presidents have routinely presented coins to their protection details and others who serve directly with them as well as to other service members. Traditionally, the president palms the coin, then gives it to the recipient via a handshake. It’s a seldom-noticed handoff that typically goes smoothly and quickly.
While the presidential coin is the most prestigious coin a service member can receive, they have many other opportunities for them as well. The Air Force, for example, issues Airman coins to each Airman at the successful conclusion of basic training.
The White House Gift Shop also sells a non-military presidential coin as well. These make excellent collectibles..
If you’re fortunate enough to receive a presidential challenge coin from any president, you are a fortunate individual! It will surely become a keepsake and family heirloom.
(coin photo: whitehousegiftshop.com)