Custom coins are special not only because of the way they are made but also by the way they are given. Of course giving them in a box or in some kind of pouch is a way but did you know that for military men, their customized coins are given in a very discreet manner?
The process of passing the custom coins is called "the secret handshake". Oftentimes, people in that area where the coin was given do not have a single clue about what they have witnessed. The one awarding the coin will simply give his hand to the recipient in like initiating a handshake.
Capturing the coin being awarded to someone is one of a photographer's greatest frustrations. It is a really difficult task. It would be harder than taking a photo of your baby who smiles for just two seconds because it would happen so fast that you would hardly even notice. However, a senior photographer named Jason Reed was finally able to do what others thought was impossible!
The shot was taken in June 2012 in the hot country of Afghanistan. He was with the former secretary of defense, Robert Gates. Before the secretary left the area, he said his goodbyes to the soldiers. He did this while giving them recognition through that secret handshake. Fortunately for Gates, he was able to take a photo of the actual scene. The coin was customized with the words "Robert M. Gates" on the top arch and "Secretary of Defense" on the bottom arch.
All soldiers are required to bring custom coins called challenge coins because if they don't they have to treat those who challenge them to a drinking spree. That is why it is normal for them to possess at least one. However, any coin awarded to them by a high official is a different story.
Any custom-made coin from an elite person is of course a great pride but those from the White House are worth a lot more than that. Coin collectors who happen to have the chance to get at least one coin put it on their top shelf.
Some of the other coins that collectors and those in service really long for are the CAT or Counter Assault Team coin, the Counter Sniper Team coin and coins from the Marines and Air Force.
Custom coins are not all the same. The greatest one and of course the hardest to earn is the one from the President! The famous former president George W. Bush just gave his coins to severely wounded soldiers from combat.
When President Barack Obama does the handshake, he is a bit more obvious. He seems to be more delighted than the one who receives the coin. He always shows his wide smile whenever he awards somebody. However, he is more discreet now ever since he dropped a coin while awarding a marine.
Awarding custom coins remains a heart-touching event. Receiving even one coin makes them a lifetime member of the heroes club. For military personnel, police officers, fire-fighters and other individuals who put their lives on the line every day to sustain the other people of the nation, these unique coins are only one means of showing appreciation for their sacrifice.
The discretion in awarding the coins only showcases the humility and true purpose of these soldiers. They do their duties not to impress anyone but just for mere service and that is the reason why they do deserve these custom made coins together with a big round of applause. The next time you see a high official shake the hands of a soldier, watch out! There may be a custom coin being given.