There are many traditions in America, and one that I had never heard of, but was truly moved by was a penny or any change left on the headstones of the deceased soldiers. This small gesture has a bit of a complicated history with some possible legends mixed in there as well. Today we are going to see what a coin on a grave means.


What It Means

In short, if you see any coins on a soldier's headstone it means someone wants to let the family know that somebody stopped by to pay their respects. According to a few different sources, each coin means something different,

If you leave a penny, it means you visited. A nickel means that you and the deceased soldier trained at boot camp together. If you served with the soldier, you leave a dime. A quarter is very significant because it means that you were there when that soldier was killed.

The History

The history behind this is a bit complicated and sad to hear about. Reportedly the tradition became popular in the United States during the Vietnam War.

As the Vietnam War continued it became more and more politicized, and there were countless antiwar protests and the war itself was very controversial. It is believed that the coin was a way to show respect without getting into an uncomfortable political discussion about a war that again many saw as very controversial. For a time any discussion of the war usually devolved into an uncomfortable argument about politics. 

Is It Just A Legend?

Some reports say that the history of the coins may not date back to the Vietnam War. Wide Open Country reports,

now common practice of leaving coins on tombstones in America dates back only to 2009. The money is usually collected and donated to the upkeep of the cemetery and potential burial costs.

What do you think? And as always thank you to all the brave men and women who serve and have served this country!

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