If you’ve ever seen or received a CIA challenge coin, you know the coins reflect the various mottos, special projects, and intelligence initiatives the organization uses on a daily basis. While obviously many of these projects are classified, and as such won’t ever be on a coin, with a little searching, you shouldn’t have any trouble finding a CIA coin on sale or display on the internet.
However, given the nature of the organization and what it does, many of these coins may seem a little bit cryptic. Let’s take a look at a few slogans and mottos we’ve seen on CIA coins.
“The Work of a Nation. The Center of Intelligence.”
Let’s start with the official CIA motto. The motto reflects the core principles of the Central Intelligence Agency. These principles are reflected in the vision, found on the CIA website: “One Agency. One community. An Agency unmatched in its core capabilities, functioning as one team, fully integrated into the Intelligence Community.”
The official CIA motto and vision reflect the agency’s place in the American political system as an intelligence-gathering service with America’s interests at its core. This is a fairly well-known motto; however, the CIA’s unofficial motto is perhaps even more famous.
“And ye shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free.”
The CIA’s unofficial (but very well-known) motto is a quote from the Bible – John 8:32, to be specific. The verse features heavily in CIA memorabilia. You can even find it engraved on the wall at the CIA headquarters in Langley, Virginia.
The verse is an appropriate motto for the CIA, which expends plenty of time, resources and manpower to bring the truth to light. When the headquarters was undergoing construction in the 1950s and ‘60s, Director of Central Intelligence Allen Dulles insisted on including the verse on the wall of the original headquarters building. Since then, the verse has greeted CIA employees and visitors, and displays the ideals of the agency for the world to see.
“We accomplish what others cannot accomplish and go where others cannot go.”
This phrase is part of the CIA’s mission statement, and it is a common sight on CIA challenge coins. The phrase (along with the previous motto) highlights the CIA’s role in world politics and what it stands for as an agency.
The CIA handles sensitive missions and hazardous tasks that aren’t appropriate for civilians or the military. Agents do tasks that others are not able to do, in areas that are dangerous or closed off to most individuals. This statement certainly adds an aura of mystery and intrigue to the agency that many major Hollywood films or popular television shows attempt to capture.
“Nowhere to Hide”
A coin featuring this particular slogan was the topic of a fairly popular Reddit post two years ago. The phrase “Nowhere to Hide” emphasizes the reach and influence the CIA has around the world. The CIA is known for having spies embedded in many countries as well as using top-of-the-line surveillance technology, so there truly is nowhere to hide, no matter where you go!
“We Shall Reap What Ye Have Sown”
This one is definitely on the cryptic side, especially when paired with a Punisher skull in a jester hat, as seen on this CIA challenge coin from a Washington Post article. We interpret the phrase to mean something along the lines of no matter what you do or where you go, the CIA will find out. Regardless of what you “sow”, the CIA will “reap” it!
These are just a few examples of CIA challenge coins we found around the internet, but we’ve heard stories of even more coins out there. It’s no surprise that people tend to hold on to a CIA coin when they receive one, as they’re definitely difficult to come by.
Do you have a CIA challenge coin you’d like to share? Post it in the comments or on Facebook. We’d love to see!