Joe Biden Gives Marine's Mother Command Coin in Viral Video

A video of democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden has gone viral showing the former vice president giving a Marine's mother a command coin during an exchange after a campaign event.

The video was shared by the Lincoln Project—a political action committee formed by former Republicans which is vehemently opposed to a second term for President Donald Trump. The organization enjoys a huge online presence and has thrown its weight behind Biden, becoming known for its cutting attacks on Trump.

As of Thursday morning, the video had been retweeted more than 8,000 times and liked more than 39,000 times. The Lincoln Project shared the video with the caption: "Presidential."

In the video, Biden is greeted by a woman saying: "Hi Joe, I'm from town. My son's in the service." She specified that her son was in the Marine Corps and based at the service's Quantico base in Virginia.

Having posed for a photo with the woman—who was wearing a Biden-Harris 2020 sticker—Biden handed her a command coin and said: "Your son will understand this. When you see him, you give him this command coin."

"Tell him he's in the best fighting forces in the world," Biden added. The woman thanked Biden, telling him: "You don't understand what that means to me," noting she had not seen her son for a year. "Tell him I said thank you," Biden said.


— The Lincoln Project (@ProjectLincoln) October 29, 2020

Command coins—pocket-size medallions—are a military tradition and given to service members as a mark of allegiance and a reward for performance. Each coin carries symbols and mottos referring to the unit, service branch or office the servicemember belongs to.

They are a source of pride for troops, and high-ranking officers and veterans will often display their collection of coins as a mark of pride and experience.

Presidents, vice presidents, and other top officials have their own coins that they hand out to service members. The coin Biden gave to the Marine's mother in the Lincoln Project video is presumably one of his own custom coins.

The command coin was never officially sanctioned, so there are multiple theories as to how they became a part of military tradition, The New York Times reported. One story is that a commander gave matching bronze coins to his unit before they were deployed in World War One.

One American pilot was later captured by German forces but escaped to a French outpost. Thinking he was a German spy, the French troops almost shot him. But the airman was able to prove his allegiance—and save his life—by showing them the bronze coin around his neck.

Another theory is that command coins were used to gain entry into an infantry-run bar in Vietnam, as proof that would-be drinkers belonged to infantry units. Enemy bullets could also be used to gain entry in lieu of a coin, the Times said.

Joe Biden, command coin, election 2020, video
Former Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta hands out command coins to troops after speaking at Pacific Command in Honolulu, Hawaii, on May 31, 2012. JIM WATSON/AFP/GettyImages/Getty