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Coins Left On Tombstones

posted Sep 30, 2013, 8:48 AM by John Givner   [ updated Sep 30, 2013, 8:56 AM ]
The tradition of leaving coins on the headstones of military men and women can be traced to as far back as the Roman Empire. 

A coin left on a headstone or at the grave site is meant as a message to the deceased soldier's family that someone else has visited the grave to pay respect. These meanings vary depending on the denomination of coin.  
 

Leaving:

A penny at the grave means simply that you visited. 

A nickel indicates that you and the deceased trained at boot camp together. 
 
A dime means you served with him in some capacity

A quarter at the grave, you are telling the family that you were with the solider when he was killed. 

                                                        
   
 
In the US, this practice became common during the Vietnam war, due to the political divide in the country over the war; leaving a coin was seen as a more practical way to communicate that you had visited the grave than contacting the soldier's family, which could devolve into an uncomfortable argument over politics relating to the war.

Some Vietnam veterans would leave coins as a "down payment" to buy their fallen comrades a beer or play a hand of cards when they would finally be reunited.



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