Presidents over about two decades have handed out commemorative “challenge” coins to military service members to mark special achievements or milestones, with each commander in chief putting his own touch on the coin.
President Trump’s coin is noticeably different in size and look from its predecessors and the president had a hand in its design, the Washington Post reported.
With Trump’s update, gone is the national motto, E pluribus unum, meaning “out of many, one.” In its place is the president’s campaign slogan, “Make America Great Again.” The administration has also occasionally used MAGA on official White House documents.
One White House aide told the Post the coin was “very gold,” adding that Trump “wanted to weigh in on” its design. The Republican National Committee pays for the coin.
The traditional presidential seal has been replaced by an eagle looking rightward, with President Trump’s signature beneath it. Instead of holding the customary 13 arrows representing the original states, or an olive branch, the eagle is perched behind a red, white and blue shield, with 13 stars around its wings.
President Obama’s coin had the presidential seal on the front and was smaller in both circumference and thickness. His name appeared on the back of the coin, above a depiction of the White House with his signature below it. President George W. Bush’s coin, similarly sized to Obama’s, had the presidential seal on the front and the White House on the flip side, with his name above it.
The changes, amid White House hints that the coins might not keep their military exclusivity but could be used at rallies and given to donors, weren’t without criticism.
“For the commander in chief to give a political token with a campaign slogan on it to military officers would violate the important principle of separating the military from politics, as well as diminishing the tradition of the coin,” Trevor Potter, a former Republican chairman of the Federal Election Commission, told the Washington Post.
The coin design was trending on Twitter as well.