Coins tell a story

May 16, 2013 in Coins, History, Nickel Coins, Pennies, USA Coins

Posted by Compmanager on May 15, 2013 (
May is a rather difficult month for me for several reasons.

First off, I was born in May. As the years have passed, celebrating that day isn’t as much fun as it used to be. A bigger breath is needed to blow out all of the candles before the fire department is called to attend the blaze.

Chuck, my oldest son was born in May, and he was also killed shortly after his 28th birthday while serving in Iraq. Then, there is Memorial Day to honor fallen soldiers.

While I’ve always had a great respect for those who serve their country, it wasn’t until my son was killed that the meaning of Memorial Day really hit home.

Over the last eight years I’ve visited Chuck’s grave several times and noticed a variety of coins on his headstone and on the graves of other soldiers. I never really thought about it much or that it had a special meaning.

A few months ago a letter was sent to me explaining the meaning of the coins left on a soldier’s grave who gave their life while serving in Armed Forces.

A coin left on a headstone or at the gravesite is meant as a message to the deceased soldier’s family that someone had visited the grave to pay respect.

Each coin left has a distinct meaning depending on the denomination of coin: Leaving a penny at the grave means simply that someone visited.

Leaving a nickel indicates that the visitor and the deceased trained at boot camp together, while a dime means the visitor served with the soldier in some capacity.

A quarter left at the grave tells the family the visitor was with the soldier when he was killed.

According to tradition, the money left is left at graves in national cemeteries and state veterans cemeteries is eventually collected, and the funds are put toward maintaining the cemetery or paying burial costs for indigent veterans.

According to the letter, leaving a coin became common during the Vietnam War because of the political controversy in the country over the war. Leaving a coin was seen as a practical way to communicate that a person had visited the grave rather than contacting the soldier’s family, which could become uncomfortable argument over politics relating to the war.

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