According to legend, the coins belong on the gravestones of U.S. military veterans. Visitors who wish to show their respect leave coins on the headstones in different amounts.

Leaving a penny simply means you visited and want to thank the veteran for their service. A nickel means you trained at boot camp with the deceased, while a dime suggests you served with him or her. Finally, a quarter signifies you were with the soldier when they passed away.

The origin of the tradition, like the meaning behind it, is still up for debate. But many people believe it started in America during the Vietnam war. America was having a crisis of conscience. Any discussion of the war usually devolved into a greater discussion about politics. Leaving a coin was a way to say you appreciate the soldier’s service while avoiding an inevitable uncomfortable conversation.

However, one verifiable tradition is the leaving of “challenge coins” by fellow veterans. These coins usually contain the emblem of the deceased’s military company or unit, and fellow soldiers leave them to pay tribute.



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