If you have ever seen or received a CIA challenge coin, you already know the various mottos, special projects, and intelligence initiatives these coins can reflect.
While 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. Today we take a look at a few slogans and mottos we’ve seen on CIA coins.
"The Work of a Nation. The Center of Intelligence."
This is the official CIA motto. The slogan reflects the core principles of the Central Intelligence Agency. These principles are also 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. It's a reasonably 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 motto is a quote from the Bible – John 8:32, to be specific. The verse features heavily in CIA memorabilia, even 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 bringing 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.
Since then, the verse has greeted CIA employees and visitors and displays the ideals of the agency proudly for everyone to see.
"We accomplish what others cannot accomplish and go where others cannot go."
This phrase is part of the CIA’s mission statement. It has become a common sight on CIA challenge coins. The phrase showcases the CIA's role in world politics and what it stands for as an agency.
The CIA handles sensitive missions and hazardous tasks that are not suited 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 adds an aura of mystery and intrigue to the agency that many major Hollywood films or popular television shows aim to capture.
"Nowhere to Hide."
A coin featuring this particular slogan was the topic of a fairly popular Reddit post a few years back.
The phrase “Nowhere to Hide” emphasizes the reach and influence the CIA has around the globe. The CIA is known for having spies embedded in many countries, while also using top-of-the-line surveillance technology. There truly is nowhere to hide, no matter where you go!
"We Shall Reap What Ye Have Sown."
This is undoubtedly one on the cryptic side, especially when paired with a Punisher skull in a jester hat. This CIA challenge coin, as shown in a Washington Post article.
We interpret the phrase to mean that no matter what you do or where you go, the CIA can find out. Regardless of what you “sow,” the CIA will “reap” it!
These are just a few examples of CIA challenge coins, though 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. They are rare and difficult to come by. Do you have a CIA challenge coin you’d like to share? Share it on Facebook! We'd love to see it!
Hello, I'm Jesse Daugherty, a music enthusiast, sports aficionado, and an avid supporter of the arts. I'm a writer and content creator. For the past 5 years, I've shared my knowledge of custom challenge coins and other promotional products, exploring their designs, meaning, and purpose.