Challenge Coins are a long running military tradition. With the Inauguration fast approaching, commercial businesses are looking for the dollar to be made from souvenirs. Obama Challenge Coins are starting to show up on EBay and other sales sites. The Obama Challenge Coin is meant to commemorate the day’s event but will the military members who hold challenge coin tradition as a time honored tradition buy and carry the Obama Challenge Coin?
Challenge coins signify a military member’s camaraderie with other coin holders. It stands to reason there would be an Obama Challenge Coin since he is the new Commander in Chief. However, challenge coins come with an expected response by the military member. Challenge coin history dates back to World War I when an American Lieutenant was captured and stripped of all of his identification other than a pouch with a medallion which identified his squadron’s insignia. When French captors recognized the insignia, they gave the Lt time to confirm who he was and let him go. After that, it became a tradition for all members to carry their coin with them and to ensure they did so the coin challenge, known today as a Coin Check was established.
Any carrying member can call a Coin Check. Coin checks are done by raising the coin in the air and loudly announcing “coin check” to all in the area. This is often accompanied by slamming the coin to the table or bar so it is heard by all. All challenged must produce their coins. Anyone who does not have their coin must buy a round of drinks for the challenger and for all who had their challenge coin available when checked.
Of course the marketing of the Obama Challenge Coin is not just to the military but since it is military tradition, what should the salesman expect from the military market? In a recent militarytimes.com poll, when asked how they feel about President-elect Obama as Commander-in-Chief, six out of ten said they were either uncertain or pessimistic about the upcoming term. Most likely those six out of ten won’t be buying the Obama Challenge Coin.
Perhaps President-Elect Obama might hand out an Obama Challenge Coin at the Commander-in-Chief’s Ball. This Military-Only ball held at the National Building Museum would be the perfect place for Obama to embrace the Military Challenge Coin tradition by giving each attendee a coin to keep. The question is who will call the first coin check and ask to see the President’s coin? And will Mr. President have a coin or will he be buying the drinks?