Coins Left Behind at Veteran’s Tombstones Have Significant Meanings

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Vietnam War vet Colonel Dave Taylor recently spoke with ABC to show the tradition of leaving coins behind on the headstones of veterans. During the video, he visited the gravesite of Lt. Sharon Lane who he served with during the war. While paying his respects, he placed a dime on the tombstone. Then, Taylor walked down the rows of recently erected headstones for veterans, placing a penny down at each gravesite.

“Leaving coins at cemeteries was popularized during the Vietnam War,” Taylor says. It became a way to give a nod to soldiers and their families without bringing up any political or painful conversation about the controversial war. A penny signifies a visit while a nickel is left behind by those who trained with the deceased veteran. A dime means the gravesite visitor actively served with the veteran.

The most weighty symbol a person can leave is a quarter. explains, “ By leaving a quarter at the grave, you are telling the family that you were with the soldier when he was killed.” adds, “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.”

It’s said that after a while, the coins are collected by state veteran cemetery officials who put the money toward keeping up the cemetery or providing burial for impoverished veterans.