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Challenge Coin Recipients at ECC Commencement

Current and former members of the military who graduated from East Central College May 18 were presented with challenge coins to recognize their service.  Pictured, from left, are Nathan Shelton of Sullivan, Corporal-U.S. Marine Corp; Gary Williams of Washington, Sergeant-U.S. Army; ECC President Jon Bauer; Alvin Howland of Union, Airman Basic-U.S. Air Force; and Michael Klemme of Union, Senior Chief Petty Officer-, U.S. Navy.



The 2013 commencement ceremony at East Central College marked the start of a new tradition at the college. 


Graduates who have served, or are now on active duty in the armed forces, were presented with a bronze challenge coin by ECC President Jon Bauer at ECC’s May 18 commencement.  The coin bears the college seal on one side and on the reverse a congratulatory message and the emblems of each branch of the armed force.  


“Service to our nation is an honorable distinction, and we are proud to recognize this service by our students at commencement ceremonies,” said Bauer.  “This new tradition at ECC gives current and former members of the military the opportunity to be recognized for their academic achievements and selfless service.”  According to Bauer, the idea of presenting the challenge coins to graduating veterans and military personnel came after conversations with ECC staff who have served in the military regarding ways to honor service members on occasions beyond Veterans Day.  Current and former members of the military also wore red, white and blue honor cords with their academic gown.


Members of the U.S. Armed Forces have a long-standing tradition of carrying challenge coins that symbolize unit identity and brotherhood. Each coin usually bears unique unit symbols or mottos that identify the group they represent, and are often traded, presented, and collected between unit members. The coins reflect the essence of military affiliation and instill pride in those that carry them.


ECC Challenge Coins

The exact origin of the challenge coin is unknown, but one version is that wealthy college men who joined the U.S. Air Corps to fight in World War I had coins struck to give to comrades as a gesture of fraternity. When one young fighter pilot was shot down behind enemy lines, he managed to prove he was an ally and escape execution by presenting a challenge coin that bore his military insignia.



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