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Remembering the Brave Coin
Remembering Heroes with the Challenge Coin Tradition
When the men and women in America's military commit to protecting the freedom that we all enjoy, sometimes that commitment leads to the ultimate sacrifice. As a Casualty Assistance Officer, LtCol Steve Beck was personally aware of the pain this sacrifice caused in the families of our fallen heroes. Charged with informing the families of their loss, LtCol Beck performed his duty with honor but wanted to do even more to keep the memory of these brave warriors bright in the minds of all.
Helping the Deeds of Heroes be Forever Remembered
After one memorable conversation with a Gold Star Mother, LtCol Beck decided to form the Remembering the Brave Foundation. Established in 2004, this all-volunteer organization shoulders the task of making sure "the names, faces, and deeds of our American heroes are forever remembered," Beck said.
The group is dedicated to helping families in all the services, and the families of first responders, to celebrate the lives and spirit of their loved ones. The organization hosts dinner banquets and ceremonies where families can gather and spend time with those who knew their beloved sons, daughter, husbands, and wives and to honor their memory. At these ceremonies they are presented with full mounted sets of medals representing their loved one's service to this nation.
Celebrating a Life in Enduring Metal
Over the years, Beck has searched for a tangible symbol that could celebrate these heroes appropriately and can be given to their families. In the age-old challenge coin military custom, Beck saw a great opportunity to give something that families could hold while uniting with the larger military family and spirit. "Challenge coins are physical artifacts that people can grasp onto, learn from, and they are comprised of elements that tell stories that they'll keep and hold forever. I knew that to these families, the Remembering the Brave medallions would be representative of the nation's commitment to forever remember their loved ones and that while carrying it they would be reminded to think of them often," Beck said.
Beck himself possessed some challenge coins, but they were not of the appropriate quality he desired for the Remembering the Brave Foundation. Then he saw a coin from Northwest Territorial Mint. "I was walking by the Northwest Territorial Mint store at the Pentagon and noticed the quality of the products," he explained. "For what I was doing, I needed something better than the coin I had. I needed a coin that was nothing less than exceptional -- and that's what I got."
How a Coin Honors Service and Preserves Memories
At events in military halls and museums across the country, the Remembering the Brave organization puts its silver medallion, struck by Northwest Territorial Mint, into the hands of donors. This is a special thank you. Remembering the Brave also presents bronze medallions at its ceremonies to serve as enduring reminders of the heroes it honors. "It's important -- not just for the families, but for this country -- to see the faces, read the names and hear the deeds of those who put themselves in harm's way so that we can all have the freedoms we enjoy," Beck said.
The two-and-a-half inch medallion is struck in 5 Troy ounces of .999-pure silver. The obverse shows a shield with four quadrants. In the left corner is the Gold Star flag that's presented to the families who have lost their loved ones in combat. The yellow rose on the right symbolizes the memories of loved ones and the assurance that they'll never fade from heart and mind. The dove with the olive branch represents prayers of peace for the American warriors who stand most ready when the nation is least ready. The goblet represents the cup that toasts their heroic deeds.
The medallion's reverse shows the Purple Heart medal surrounded by the Latin phrase "Sic Vestri Nomen Mos Usquequaque Exsisto Memor," which translates into "So your name and deeds are forever remembered."
A Promise from a Gold Star Mother
One particular experience stands out in Beck's mind as representative of the response his organization often receives. At a recent dinner, a Gold Star Mother came up to him and told him that she wanted other Gold Star Mothers to experience what she just had. "This other mother who had lost her son was at our dinner and said to me ‘I want to give you all my diamonds and gold and you can use that to help other Gold Star Mothers. I want them to feel what I felt when I was at your event.' That was overwhelming," Beck said.
Cherishing Their Memories and Making Their Service Meaningful
The Remembering the Brave organization helps hundreds of families each year and wants to continue to help even more. Beck believes the challenge coins play a big part in that. "For all of our extended families with loved ones serving in harm's way -- they cherish the coins we give them as tangible reminders of their connection to this country's best and bravest, " he said.
Beck makes it clear that there's still plenty of work to do. He said, "We need to continue to tell the world about the heroic service of our nation's men and women -- we've been doing it for five years now and our work's just begun."
Learn more about Remembering the Brave here: www.rememberingthebrave.org