When you are visiting a cemetery, especially military ones, such as Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Virginia, you may notice headstone markers that have coins left on them. When you see coins on the headstones of soldiers it tranquil message to the family of the deceased that someone had stopped by to pay their respects.
Each type of coin left behind has a distinct meaning that was left on the headstone of those who gave their life while serving in our military. These meanings vary depending on the domination of the coin.
A penny means that they were visited.
A nickel means that they were visited by someone who trained at boot camp with them.
A dime means that they served with the soldier in some capacity.
A quarter signifies to the family that the visitor had been with the soldier when they were killed in action.
National and state veteran cemeteries will periodically collect these coins in order to use towards maintaining the cemetery.
Leaving coins at headstones became a very common practice during the Vietnam war. Our country was politically divided during this time period. By leaving a coin it was a tranquil way of paying respect without the fear of getting into a potentially heated debate with the deceased soldier's family.
The tradition of leaving a coin on the headstone of military men can be traced back as far as the Roman Empire. It is believed that the coin left behind was a way of giving the soldier some spending money for the hereafter life.
As genealogy and family history are becoming more popular more deceased soldiers' headstones are being visited more frequently as current generations are visiting their ancestors. If you are planning to visit the headstone of an ancestor who was a fallen soldier why not think about leaving a penny as a way to honor them and as a sign to others that the fallen soldier had been visited as well as continues to be remembered.