A Brief History of Marine Corps Challenge Coins

Whether you’re in the military yourself, have a relative who is, or you’re just interested in collecting military paraphernalia, the use of challenge coins is perhaps one of the most interesting customs – and the coins themselves, in an amazing array of variations for different units and purposes, are great keepsakes.

While used in all branches of the service, no one seems to love challenge coins as much as the U.S. Marine Corps. There are probably more variations of Marine Corps challenge coins than any other branch has, and they are still in active use for “challenges” by Marines today.

But where do challenge coins come from?


The truth is no one knows the exact origin of challenge coins, but there are several plausible legends. The earliest of them starts in World War I, “the Great War”. As cn7361volunteer American pilots flocked to Europe to join the French air corps, it’s said that a unit commander honored their bravery and selflessness by having solid bronze coins struck with their unit insignia and giving one to each man. One of these pilots was later shot down behind German lines. He was able to escape by stealing civilian clothes to wear, but when he reached French lines they suspected he was a spy or saboteur. They were about to execute him when he showed them his coin, and recognizing the unit insignia they spared him. If true, this was the first “challenge” and the lucky airman was returned to active duty.

Other legends place the origin of challenge coins in World War II, the Korean War, the Philippines or later. Unlike the WWI story, all of these variants have the coins made deliberately to identify undercover members of a unit: sometimes the coins were stamped with the insignia, other times they were normal coins but the agent was told to bring a specific denomination from a specific year. Only by showing this coin could he prove who he was.

How to Challenge

In the Marine Corps the rules of the challenge have become almost sacrosanct. Every member of a unit should carry their Marine Corps Challenge Coin at all times, and if they neglect to do so they could lose the challenge. Any Marine can pull out his challenge coin and tap or slam it on the table in front of any other member of his unit, “challenging” them. If they can immediately display their own coin, he owes them a drink; if they can’t, they owe him one. Some units have their own variant rules.

Nowadays, Marine Corps challenge coins are not only carried as a sign of membership in a unit, they are also given as awards by commanders.

Do you have any Marine Corps challenge coins? We have an array you can add to your collection.

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Memorial Day Means Beginnings… And Memories

Where did May go? Everyone’s asking that this week, myself included. And it’s true, it has flown by, and now the first holiday of the summer is upon us: Memorial Day. Personally, this is one of my favorite holidays. It combines beginnings (summer kicking off) with honoring others’ brave endings (remembering fallen soldiers), and there’s something about the balance to that that really inspires me.

This Monday, there will be parades, cookouts, and everywhere you go there will be veterans selling poppy flowers. I remember these pieces from when I was very young and they haven’t changed a bit in the interceding years. But while these little paper poppies are still given out for donations all over the country, there are lots of ways to remember veterans on this day, and not just on this day, but all year round.

Take time to thank veterans whenever you come across them throughout the year. In airports or hospitals, on the street, at work. Thank them. They’ve given the entire nation a gift that we can never fully repay them for.

Wear a poppy lapel pin all year round, and give them to others who have family and 1507friends in the military. Poppy lapel pins are fashioned after the sweet paper poppies given out on Memorial day, but are meant to last forever, and serve as a reminder and a tribute to fallen vets every day of the year.

Surprise a vet selling poppies this year by donating money and instead of taking a poppy yourself, pin a poppy lapel pin on their shirt instead. That way you can give back to things like V.A. hospitals and veterans programs, and also give back to the vet themselves, those great men and women who stand out all day on Memorial day collecting those donations.

Whatever you end up doing on Memorial day, celebrate. Celebrate summer, freedom, family, and thank a vet. We at PinMart are so grateful to our former and currently serving service men and women. We wouldn’t be who we are without you!!!

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I Mustache You A Question: Will You Marry Me?

It seems that my formal wardrobe always doubles this time of year. Between the engagement parties, the weddings, receptions and then the anniversary parties, May is a month of marital celebration. And unless you’re eloping (and sometimes even when you do!) the celebrations these days for engagements and weddings are no small affair. Every single aspect of the event is carefully coordinated, choreographed and complimented to every other aspect of the event. Weddings especially have become an art form, and originality and theme are at the top of the list of important aspects. And for people looking to get cutting edge, gorgeous wedding planning ideas, most brides and planners turn to the guru: Martha Stewart. And who did Martha Stewart turn to recently? PinMart!!

That’s right! PinMart is featured in Martha Stewart’s current issue of Real Weddings, and we here couldn’t be more proud. They turned our creative lapel pins into a center piece on save the date and wedding announcement cards. Camera lapel pins, airplanes, and our 1337pineapple lapel pin were shown, with puns and alliteration added in for effect. It was a great way to use lapel pins in a non-traditional way, and of course, after the cards are delivered, attendees are more than welcome to remove the pins from the cards and wear them to the event!

It was a very big honor to be included in such an influential magazine and we here at PinMart were thrilled to see our lapel pins in print! And believe me, with all the weddings and wedding related events I’m going to be going to this summer, you can be sure I’m going to bring up our feature at every possible moment. It’ll be a nice way to turn the conversation away from when *I* plan on getting married, which, you know, also happens every summer at weddings.

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Military Pins are used for more than Just Special Occasions

Military pins are a popular item these days, but many people don’t realize just how versatile they are. When many people imagine an occasion for wearing them, they think of war memorials and official military occasions exclusively, but there are lots of other instances when people will wear these symbolic pieces.

Why wear a military pin? Here are a few of the best reasons:
To show support for a particular military branch

Whether you’re a veteran yourself or you just have one in the family, lots of people have an attachment to a particular branch of military service, whether it is the Navy, Army, Marine Corps, Air Force, Coast Guard or National Guard. Wearing a military pin is a great way to USARMYshow your support of a branch. It will also help you to strike up conversations with other people who share your enthusiasm!

To show your patriotism

Supporting the U.S. armed forces is supporting the U.S. as a nation. Someone who adds a military pin to their outfit is usually someone of unquestioned patriotism. That’s why a military pin is a great addition for any patriotic occasion or even for everyday display.

To connect with other veterans and active military members

If you’re a veteran or you’re currently in the armed forces, you are part of an elite group who has dedicated their lives to defending our nation and its values. There’s no simpler way to let others know that you’re a veteran and to connect with them than wearing a military pin. To a civilian, it’s a subtle accessory, but to another service member, it will stand out immediately. More than one veteran has met a new friend simply by spotting the military paraphernalia they’re wearing.

As a lapel pin for important occasions

Even if you don’t wear your military pin on an everyday basis, it can be a great formal accent when you need to look your best. While an Army t-shirt or Marine Corps baseball hat might not fit in at a black tie event, a military pin can go anywhere. Worn on the lapel of a suit or near the shoulder of a dress, it is a tasteful accent that still emphasizes your affiliation.

As a keepsake of your particular unit or division

Military pins go far beyond simple branches of service. There are hundreds of pins for individual units, both current and historic. You can show pride in your particular unit and remember the times you shared as comrades by wearing your unit’s insignia as a pin.

For Veterans Day

You don’t have to be a veteran to show pride on Veterans Day. Let vets know you appreciate their service by wearing a military pin… and then thanking the vets in your life!

Do you have a military pin? When do you like to wear it?

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4 Ways to Show Support when a Loved One Has Brain Cancer

Cancer is one of the world’s most powerful, deadly diseases. Of course, you hope a loved one is never diagnosed with any form of cancer; however, with over 12 million Americans living with some form of the disease, the chances that you or someone you know will develop cancer someday are fairly high. According to Cancer.net, over 20,000 individuals will be diagnosed with brain cancer each year. It’s never easy to deal with a loved one being sick, especially not with an illness as serious as brain cancer. Nonetheless, it is important that you show your support for them during this tough time, and here are four of the best ways to do so:braincancer

1. Help them. Chances are, your loved one will need a bit of help when dealing with brain cancer. How much will depend on the stage of their cancer and whether or not it has spread to other body parts. Because the brain controls so many of our actions, brain cancer patients may lose the ability to perform simple tasks, including feeding and caring for themselves. Always offer to help them, but don’t baby them. Remember that they are still capable of feeling emotions and can become easily embarrassed or upset at the realization that they can no longer care for themselves like they used to.

2. Avoid making a fuss. When you make a big deal about your loved one’s illness, you may be drawing too much negative attention to it. Cancer patients are aware of their illnesses in ways that you may not even be able to imagine and often feel frightened by them. Don’t make too much of a fuss or you may make it worse. Avoid talking about their illness in front of them unless they bring it up first. Instead, show support and converse with them as you would have before they were diagnosed.

3. Show your support. While you won’t want to make a fuss over their illness, it’s still important to stick by your loved one’s side and show support. Listen to them when they talk about their illness and any fears, concerns, or questions they may have. You may not know the answers to their questions or know what to say in response, but simply being a good listener can help them feel like they aren’t alone. You may also want to visibly show your support by wearing a pin or doing cancer awareness fundraising to help give them confidence about their ability to fight off the disease. While there’s no cure for cancer currently, it can still be defeated. Help your loved ones feel empowered to fight the disease and raise money for research and awareness to find a cure.

4. Avoid getting emotional. It is easy to let our emotions get the best of us when people we know have cancer. However, it is very important to be strong around our loved ones and to not give in to negative emotions. Concentrate on ways to make your loved one feel happy, confident, and hopeful that they will prevail against cancer. Never let them see you cry and never let them know that you are afraid.

Cancer is never an easy thing to experience, whether you’re the patient or your loved one is. However, if you follow these four tips, you’ll be able to help your loved one and make them feel less alone during their illness. Similarly, your loved one will feel your compassion and may be better able to manage their own emotions.

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The Aloha Spirit

I just got back from an amazing vacation. I found myself in Hawaii for a wedding, but it also included a fair amount of free time to explore our amazing 50th State. And what I noticed most about Hawaii was that its whole economy, or at least a good chunk of it, seemed to be centered around themselves as a culture. Not like other states that focus in on a tourist attraction like an amusement park, or a mountain range, or a mall. That’s not to say other states don’t value their whole culture, but Hawaii seems to be awfully proud and awfully good at selling a lifestyle, a mindset, a culture.

It wasn’t just the tourists wearing flowers in their hair, around their necks, or in the form 1506of jewelry like earrings or lapel pins. The locals were just a big a fan of their home state as we visitors were. We learned to surf from locals who used to be just visitors like us, but felt the aloha spirit strongly enough to stay, and I can’t say I blame them. The beauty and the laid back atmosphere in Hawaii was certainly easy to fall into. And the locals were not immune to it.

The personal pride that everyone seemed to take in the landscape and each other in Hawaii was as impressive to me as the ocean and the weather. And it was a huge incentive to bring home some of the aloha spirit with me, in the form of Kona coffee and yes, lapel pins. I mean, come on, would you expect any less?

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Administrative Assistants are Employees of Distinction

You’re calling up a company, on your lunch, with two other projects in front of you, and the first words you hear in the phone are from an automated voice. It’s the worst. Most of us, before that robotic man or woman has even begun to list of the options to dial, have pressed ZERO a half dozen times. Get me to the operator. The secretary. The administrative assistant. THEY can help. And they do. With everything. And as a former administrative assistant myself, I can tell you, it’s a largely thankless job.

Administrative assistants wear every hat in the company at some point. They’re the gateway to your organization, the first point of contact, and you know what they say about S836first impressions! They’re often putting out fires, making connections between departments, keeping track of everyone’s schedules, and generally keeping the entire office machine running without a hitch. If they don’t deserve an appreciation day, nobody does! Thankfully, they do have a day, and it’s next Wednesday the 23rd of April.

Again, speaking from experience, I can tell you that a heartfelt “thank you” can go a long way. But little tokens of appreciation don’t hurt either, like cards, gift certificates, or recognition pins. There are tons of choices out there to make your gift as personalized as you like, with recognition pins for every different quality that administrative professional excel at.

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Infographic: Make Skin Cancer Awareness Month Meaningful

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Autism Awareness Infographic

April is upon us, and that means Autism Awareness. Studies released just last week have indicated that children effected with autism has gone up from 1 in 88 to 1 in 68. This is an alarming jump that needs to be addressed.

The below infographic helps lay out the issues and the ways to help when it comes to autism awareness. From the likelihood of boys to girls, to what sort of awareness ribbons can show your support, check it out and do your part this April.



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National Nutrition Month: Feed Your Body the Right Nutrients to Prevent & Fight Against Cancer

Throughout the year, there are various campaigns and events held in an effort to bring about awareness and promote change. Did you know that March is National Nutrition Month?

Created by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, National Nutrition Month is an educational and informational campaign designed to help promote the importance of making better food choices and developing good eating habits.

While you don’t need a health nutritionist or doctor to inform you of the importance of eating healthy and exercising regularly, not everyone takes into account the significance of healthy habits. It’s usually not until an illness, disease or other health problem arises that we begin to understand the impact a poor diet has on our body.

Did you know that poor diet and lack of physical activity are two prime factors that increase your chances of developing cancer? According to the World Health Organization, at least one-third of all cancer cases are preventable. And the majority of these cases are attributed to a poor diet and lack of physical activity.

How your weight plays a role in cancer risk
Being overweight causes your body to produce and circulate more estrogen and insulin, which1382 stimulate cancer growth. It increases your chances of developing cancer including breast cancer, colon cancer and pancreas cancer, among others. Maintaining a healthy weight helps you to reduce your risk of not only cancer, but other chronic illnesses such as diabetes and heart disease.

Why being physical active matters
While a good diet will certainly help you control your weight, it’s equally important that you exercise regularly. Doing so helps you avoid factors that contribute to the development of cancer such as obesity, inflammation and hormone levels, and insulin resistance, among others. In addition to exercising regularly, there are small changes you can make in your everyday life to help you be more active such as taking the stairs instead of the elevator and doing common housework like gardening.

Good nutrition is important during cancer treatment
Following a good diet is not just important to help protect against cancer, but especially for those undergoing cancer treatment. Consuming the right foods and nutrients during and after treatment help you not only feel better but stay stronger.

Nutrition therapy is often used to help cancer patients receive the nutrition their body needs to stay at a good weight, keep body tissue healthy and fight against infections. Also, cancer patients who are well nourished may have a better chance of recovery and quality of life than others.

While cancer is a life-threatening illness, the good news is that you can do something about it. Join in the effort to raise awareness about cancer and the importance of healthy eating. Our cancer awareness ribbons are perfect to help bring about awareness and to show how you care.

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