Coins on Graves: The History Behind Honoring Our Nation’s Military


If you ’ ve ever visited a war memorial, the chances are effective that you ’ ve seen some kind of coin on graves or even sticking in the divots of a diagnose carved in the pit. And before you ask : No, person did NOT forget their lunch money atop the grave of a fallen brother .
This international relations and security network ’ t an arbitrary practice, nor is it a new matter. Putting coins on graves has an incredibly rich history that spans room, waaayyy back, even to ancient Greece. Want to know more about this intrigue practice ? Don ’ t stop scroll !

Why Do People Put Coins on Graves?

History of Grave Money: The Underworld & The River Styx

sol why do people put coins on graves ? The modern commit of putting coins on headstones can be traced back AT LEAST over 3,000 years ago to ancient Greece. As with pretty much everything involving Greeks of the time time period, it related strongly to the greek gods and Greek mythology. If the words “ Underworld ” and “ River Styx ” ring any bell in your mind, then you ’ ve got a effective basis for understanding the mean of putting coins on Veteran graves today .
It sounds like something out of a ghastly, thrilling Halloween fib. In short, the Underworld was recognized in Greece as the station where everyone went when they died. Before the all in arrive, however, they ’ d have to cross the River Styx with the help of its ferryman, besides known as Charon. however, the ferryman needed a bell to ferry people to the early side. Are you connecting the dots even ?

People ’ sulfur loved ones did not want their asleep syndicate members to be stranded on the other side of the Styx after they passed on, so the support would place coins in either the mouth or on the eyes of the dead. While we can ’ deoxythymidine monophosphate think this was a peculiarly enjoyable final meal, it did mean that the dead could cross over with money to pay the ferryman. normally, this money would be a greek obol, a round-ish silver piece of currentness exchangeable to a quarter or dime bag .
This rehearse soon spread throughout western Europe and the New East, and many places and people have created their own adaptations of the tradition, which finally paved the way for us to put coins on graves of military members .

Modern Meaning

As with everything, the meaning has been transformed by modern customs and beliefs over time. Though the theme of an Underworld and death-river sounds, honestly, amazing as hell, the stream practice doesn ’ t precisely carry that lapp mean .
For the most character, seeing coins on military graves means that person has visited that dangerous and paid their respects to the dead. It ’ sulfur besides a means to let the family know that person is thinking of them and their love one. Depending on the type of coin, however, the mean can change .

Coin Denominations


Why do people put pennies on graves ? Pennies on graves symbolize respect and memorial, and this makes them the most common coins you ’ ll find on graves. They show that a person has visited the dangerous and given their thoughts and respects to the fallen military member .


A nickel could symbolize that you knew the military member because you trained together at boot camp .


Seeing a dime bag on a sculpt could mean that the person who visited served directly alongside the military extremity .


Quarters often imply that you were award when the military member passed away .

Challenge Coins

People besides sometimes leave behind challenge coins on graves of fallen military members. Challenge coins are singular, coin-like medallions that normally display the emblem of a specific unit or military ramify and can represent chumminess. It ’ south common to leave a challenge mint of the dead person person ’ s military branch on clear of their grave.

Read more: Events Timeline


Should you do anything if you see coins on graves ? NO. It ’ s not a rancid bottle of milk or pile of pawl you-know-what that person disrespectfully left behind. Don ’ t reach any coins you see on a grave. now that you know the think of behind it, you know that it wasn ’ t an accident .
Don’t be an a*shole. Don’t be a grave robber.
What if you want to leave coins on graves at a military memorial locate ? Do it ! Simply take a penny, or other denomination that represents your relationship to the deceased, and position it atop the gravestone. Don ’ metric ton hurl it, kick it, flick it, or spit it out. Don ’ t make it some big event. Do it respectfully and quietly. Shall we say it again ? Don’t be an a*shole about it.
If you ’ rhenium uncertain that you ’ ll be permitted to place coins on graves at a certain memorial or gravestone, you can always look it up on-line ahead. Most memorial web pages or social profiles will have a notice about whether or not leaving coins on graves is allowed at that particular site ( for example, you are permitted to leave coins at gravestones in Arlington National Cemetery ) .

Traditions Similar to Coins on Graves

Ancient Egyptians

talk of grave accent robbers ! It ’ sulfur reasonably common cognition that many members of ancient egyptian royalty were buried with tons of amber, jewelry, and other goods. It was believed that they could take all their wealth and substantial goods with them into the afterlife, including their cute favored cats .

Jewish Faith

People who are a part of the jewish religion much put rocks around the graves of their love ones. You may not find flowers on the graves of people who were Jewish for several reasons. Some jewish authorities view flowers on graves as a heathen symbol or believe the use of flowers on graves to be a pine away. last, to certain members of the faith, it counteracts the classless nature of death. then why stones ? Because stones best represent an altar and its offerings to God, and stone has a short ton of important roles to play in the Hebrew Bible .


Grave blankets are still a pretty coarse rehearse. Don ’ deoxythymidine monophosphate misinterpret this ; grave blankets aren ’ deoxythymidine monophosphate plush throws that you drape over a gravestone. Grave blankets are evergreen plant arrangements that are planted in front of a gravestone. The origins purportedly come from Scandinavia, where people would place these natural blankets over their sleep together ones ’ graves to tuck them in for their endless sleep and keep them ardent during winter months .


Putting coins on graves is hardly a new or master concept. What is present ? just because it isn ’ metric ton new or original, though, doesn ’ metric ton base it isn ’ t even vastly rich people in its mean. If you plan on making trips to visit Veteran memorials, we ’ d decidedly encourage you to place a penny as you think of the sacrifices they made so that you could stand where you are today .
It might cost you a cent, but it cost them a bunch more.

Related read: The Meaning of Veterans Day : A Combat Veteran ’ s Perspective

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