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A military challenge coin is a commemorative coin made especially for a specific unit or branch of the armed forces. Many units carry their own challenge coins and there are many hundreds (if not thousands) of variants that make wonderful additions to a military paraphernalia collection. However, challenge coins are not only collector’s items – they are also in active use for “challenges” in the U.S. military today.
If a military unit has its own challenge coin, then in theory every member of that unit should carry their coin at all times. This is not a military regulation, as challenge coins are an informal tradition and are not normally given official support. However, if a member of a unit fails to keep their challenge coin on them or cannot find it quickly, they may find themselves losing the next challenge.
A challenge can be initiated at any time in any place, although they are most common when troops have down time in the bunk or when they are out on the town. In order to initiate a challenge, a unit member only needs to draw their own coin and either hold it up and announce the challenge—often in a loud and defiant way—or tap, slam, or clink it onto the table or another surface. This immediately signifies a challenge to all unit members who are present.
When so challenged, unit members must respond by presenting their own coins. Normally they slam them on the table in turn or hold them up to prove that they have their coin in hand. A challenge involves a real risk: if a unit member who was challenged cannot present their coin immediately, they lose and must buy a round of drinks for all the others who were challenged and the challenger himself. But if everyone challenged can present their coins, then the challenger is the one who loses and must buy a round of drinks for everyone else.
There are some special rules involved. When challenged, a service member may take a single step and reach an arm’s length way to get to their coin, such as a challenge in the shower room. And coins normally cannot be drilled to be worn as a necklace; they must be intact. And if a service member drops their coin by accident, they have just initiated a challenge whether they wanted to or not.
Challenge coins remain in regular use by may units today, and are occasionally even given out as awards by officers. In the civilian world, they are among the most fascinating and diverse military memorabilia.
Do you have any challenge coins?
The pairing of lapel pins and stationary creates awesome presentation cards that PinMart has been selling for a while, and this awesomeness didn’t go unnoticed by the editorial team for Martha Stewart’s Real Weddings magazine. In the Spring 2014 edition for Real Weddings, custom PinMart lapel pins were paired with witty words and warm-colored designs printed on high quality stationary by PaperPresentation.com.
Some of the Real Weddings presentation cards in the magazine included a save the date, getting married, and see you soon card – great for people who like to keep things casual and classy at the same time.
According to PinMart’s very own Cheri Dominelli, who helped facilitate the feature in the magazine, “The concept is an innovative use of our pins in a simple yet splendid visual.”
And the visual is stunning indeed. As seen in the “OH SNAP!” card, graphics on the stationary were used to complement the pin. By adding a flash! graphic to the corner of the camera pin, a sense of action is portrayed – a great example of how things on stationary don’t always have to appear to be.. well, stationary.
Another great example of this actionable feeling portrayed by the presentation cards is seen on the “BON VOYAGE!” card. Unlike a printed graphic of a plane, the plane pin gives the recipient of the card something to touch and experience. Also, the plane that pops off the stationary creates a feeling of flying upward… toward the sky… headed to Paris.
If you’re interested in creating presentation cards like those featured in Martha Stewart’s Real Weddings magazine, you have two options:
1. You can purchase pins and stationary separately (pins from $1.50 at PinMart.com and stationary from PaperPresentation.com from $8.00 for 25 sheets)
2. You can purchase per-designed presentation cards from PinMart.com.
Your Simple Guide to Navy Pins
If you take a look at military pins online you will see that there are more Navy pins than ever. This is because hat and lapel pins are both great ways to show pride in our military. Here are some of the most common Navy pins you will see:
• General Navy pins – Perhaps the most common Navy pins are those that simply say “Navy,” “U.S. Navy” or show one of the Navy’s logos such as the anchor or an eagle. These pins can be worn on a lapel or hat to show support for the Navy overall. They are by no means limited only to sailors—Navy pins are often worn by family members as well, to show their pride in their sailor or veteran and in the U.S. military. Navy pins are extremely popular and can draw instant camaraderie between veterans, service members, and family members.
• Specific tours of duty – Some sailors and vets will wear Navy pins that represent service in a specific campaign, theater or tour of duty. For example, there are many veterans today who wear Navy pins representing their service in Afghanistan or Iraq. These pins will show the colors of the campaign ribbon and the year served, such as ’07. Campaign pins like this may not make immediate sense to civilians, but they have the advantage of calling out to other veterans of the same campaign.
• Unit insignia – Obviously, there’s a lot of pride and even some competitiveness between different fleets, units, and occupations in the Navy. Some U.S. Navy pins will show pride in a certain unit or type of service. For example, you may see a sailor wearing an Atlantic Fleet pin, an Amphibious or Air Crew pin, or a pin for the specific ship they serve on. All of these can foster a sense of brotherhood with fellow sailors of the same ship, line of work or fleet.
• Pins for family members – Some navy pins that have become very popular are those that are designed not for active or veteran sailors, but for their loved ones. For example, you may see a wife wearing an “I heart my sailor” pin or a father wearing a “My Daughter is USN” pin. There are specific pins for virtually every relationship, whether you have a brother, sister, son, daughter, mother, father, or significant other in the service.
• Rank pins – Also not uncommon are lapel pins that show the rank a sailor has achieved. These are not part of official dress uniform but they can be worn with civilian attire to make a strong impression. For example, you might see someone wearing a lapel pin that shows the rank insignia of a Petty Officer 1st Class.
Do you have a U.S. Navy pin?
100 years ago: very few people can say they were alive, and even fewer can admit to remembering much of anything from 1914, in the late summer. Women still could not vote. America’s veteran population consisted of men who fought in the Civil War and the Spanish American War. Wrigley Field was in its fledgling year, hosting a new Chicago baseball team called the Cubs. And on this day in 1914, Archduke Franz Ferdinand and his wife Sofie, were assassinated while in Serbia by a Slavic nationalist, which started World War One.
100 years later, armchair quarterbacks go over the strategies of the 32 countries who all found themselves involved in The Great War. But what resonates most strongly with people who study this very pivotal period in history is the personal affects that remain: the letters, the uniforms, the medals and lapel pins earned through bravery and teamwork. Because while the decisions made during the heat of battle continue to effect our current world relations, for the average American like you and me, it’s the personal connections we can make to this far distant history that really help us understand what World War One was all about.
Over 65 million men fought in World War One from all over the world, with and against each other. As of 2008, the last surviving veteran of World War One passed away, an American man named Frank Buckles. He’d joined the army at 16 by claiming he had no birth certificate, only the family bible, to denote his birth, and therefore couldn’t prove he was or wasn’t 18, which he was hoping recruiters believed he was. He also fought in World War Two before settling down to raise a family in West Virginia. His legacy is kept alive through his grandchildren and great grandchildren, and the mementos he left behind. And for the millions of men who perhaps otherwise never would have had their life recorded or remembered in any way (this was long before social media and phone/cameras) are forever memorialized through the honors they earned in the war, and the medals, lapel pins and lives they touched during The Great War.
I admit that I watched a fair amount of this year’s just-completed FIFA World Cup, despite not being what I would consider an expert in soccer. The fact that I call it soccer instead of “football” alone labels me as a novice. But it was very cool to see such talent come together from all over the world and take part in something both physically challenging and so patriotic. Every member of every team was playing for his country, not just himself or his team. So overall it was a thrilling experience to watch the teams winnow down to the final between Argentina and Germany.
Fans at the World Cup were almost as fun to watch, however. Their costumes made them quite the patriotic spectacle, and crowd shots were always entertaining. And I admit that without the vuvuzelas creating the non-stop drone as a backdrop to the 2010 games, this time around was much more enjoyable all around. As for those who went to the games, not only did they come dressed to impress, they all left with tons of souvenirs from the event. Notably, a father and son from India managed to collect lapel pins from all 32 teams, but for them that’s just the tip of the ice burg.
These two boast a collection of over 700 rare lapel pins from every sporting event from badminton to hockey, as well as Olympic pins. The passion is divided between sports and pin collecting, with the event or the sport in question creating the same fervor in them regardless.
As someone who makes lapel pins for a living I can attest that 700 lapel pins in general is quite a collection, but to have a specialized set like the Bhat’s is extremely impressive. Hats off to you two!
Ah technology. What would we do without it? It’s a question we end up answering ourselves when, for whatever mysterious reason, our computer system crashes. At work this means a loss of productivity, a loss of income for the company, and lets face it, a lot of staring blankly at cube walls because without our computers, in the 21st century, industry comes to a screeching halt. But thankfully, system administrators are always there, coming to the rescue to demystify the problem and untangle the literal and figurative cords in order to restore connectivity and productivity. And on the 25th we thank them during System Administrator Appreciation Day!
Seriously, these individuals are proverbial heroes in whatever setting they’re placed into. Whether it’s your standard office, a shipping company, department store or the US government, without system admins, the entire country would grind to a halt. And while that’s their job, it doesn’t mean they don’t deserve a huge thank you for the number of times they’ve gone above and beyond “Have you tried turning it off and turning it back on again?”.
It doesn’t need to be expensive, especially since budgets are still tight for most businesses, and big presentations take up too much time during the day. A card signed by everyone in the office, plus a small token like a “world’s best” mug or something like a recognition lapel pin will go a long way to reminding system admins that they’re more than just the office techie, they’re both Clark Kent AND Superman.
A diagnosis of cancer is devastating. It’s also most of the time a complete surprise. Cancer runs in most families, in some form or another, so the possibility is there for most of us at some point in our lives, and requires our attention, as well as regular physicals. But just because cancer is a reality that most of us have to face does not mean we have no control over lowering these risks. Skin cancer is one form of cancer that is largely preventable through our own actions. It is also one of the most common forms of cancer, so to minimize or prevent it can take a big bite out of a person’s cancer risks. It’s all down to UV rays.
July is UV Safety Month. Its purpose is to raise awareness about the ways in which people can minimize or prevent raising their risk of skin cancer. It’s simple things like wearing sunscreen (and lots of it) and doing your best to enjoy the sunshine and summertime in a smart way. Preventing sunburn, wearing UV protective sunglasses, sunscreen, and even just big floppy hats are all ways you can limit your likelihood of getting skin cancer.
It sounds simple I know, but every year 3.5 million new cases of skin cancer are diagnosed. So awareness and reminders are key. Some skincare companies, swimsuit designers and other summertime industries are creating awareness lapel pins to give out with their products as a way to help people keep skin protection on their mind. Others include written information about the risks and the ways to help prevent UV damage.
However you remember: this blog, awareness lapel pins, the American Cancer Association Website, do yourself a favor this summer and enjoy it: worry free!
Everyone these days has a ‘bucket list’, don’t they? Those ever growing lists of things that people hope to do before they kick the proverbial bucket. Everything from climbing Mount Everest to learning to play the harp, we all have a unique set of skills and experiences we hope we get a chance at in our lives. Something that I hear more often than anything else though? Travel. I think everyone has wanderlust to some degree or another, myself included.
I would love to see the whole world, of course, from east to west, but that’s a goal that will certainly take my whole life to achieve. More immediately, I’d love to visit every state in the USA. We have a beautiful, diverse, amazing country, and every state has something unique to offer those who visit it. And if nothing else, I’m going to have mementos from all 50 states at some point.
Visiting different states can be like visiting a different country. They all have their own slang, their own claims to fame, their own exports, everything. And the touristy souvenirs that each state sells often represent those most recognizable aspects of their state. I personally go for the state shape lapel pins, because they’re all unique, but when I put the ones I’ve collected together, they form what equates to my list of “already visited” states. It’s a living tally of where I’ve been, and the gaps, those are the places yet to go, the lapel pins yet to find. I look at my collection sometimes and think of it like a scavenger hunt. And it’s just a matter of time before my cork board has a complete map of the United States on it, from lapel to shining lapel.