A kind man gave me a gift today. It brought tears to my eyes.
Very emotional about our troops, I find it touching when I encounter them in places I visit. Choking back tears, I take every opportunity to thank them personally for the freedom I have. I make sure to look them in the eyes and thank them for their service.
Today, I saw a group of soldiers approaching me in the parking lot as I got out of my car. I was going to eat with my mom and sister. I walked slowly until they were within ear shot, and I thanked them.
Inside the restaurant, two tables full of soldiers sat eating and talking. I went to each and thanked them. As I walked away, I fought back my tears - for reasons that are obvious and complicated. Soldiers touch my heart for their bravery, courage, and honor - for their selflessness and for their sense of self. And because they give and I receive.
As my sister, my mom and I sat eating, my phone rang. My husband. With a mouthful of food and a phone to my ear, a kind man dressed in Army fatigues approached our table and extended his hand to me.
He said, "I just want to give you this and thank you because we really appreciate it when people thank us." A bit speechless and choked up I said "Thank you." I stretched my hand to him and we shook hands. He turned and walked away.
I was on the inside of the booth and didn't have a chance to get up and properly receive his gift. I didn't get his name or an explanation of the gift.
Tonight, I searched the internet until I uncovered the term "Challenge Coin." Very interesting.
The Challenge Coin has an origin of helping to save a solder's life - it helped to identify him as belonging to a specific company. Instead of being killed, he was given a bottle of wine.
The challenge comes into play later on in time - when a soldier is asked to produce his/her Challenge Coin, they must do so within 60 seconds. If they do not, then they owe the challenger a drink. If they do, the challenger must pay.
Challenge Coins are created for the military with specific insignia to prove membership. They also help build morale within units and are earned for good deeds and proven fellowship.
Today, I was able to see firsthand, the second use for the Challenge Coin - as a "reward or award." I accept it and promise to always thank our men and women of the military and to do it in a way that will challenge and encourage others to do the same.
Here are some interesting links to learn more about the Challenge Coin: