Why You Should Never Touch Coins Left on a Gravestone

Ever visited a cemetery and noticed a splattering of items left on gravestones? From coins to flowers to stones, there’s a sentiment behind why visitors leave certain pieces. And if you’ve ever noticed coins in particular on a headstone, you might be curious why. As it turns out, this act of remembrance is intended to honor individuals who served this country through military service.

What does it mean when there are coins on a gravestone?

When you see coins on a gravestone, this signifies that the person buried there was a member of the military. Similar to gold stars on license plates, these coins are a meaningful way for people to convey their pride in a loved one who is no longer with them. People who visit the deceased service member can leave a coin on the headstone so when loved ones come to the cemetery, they’re aware that others have been to pay their respects, too. This moving sentiment can make a tremendous impact on the family of deceased military folks, which is why it’s a special tradition.

It’s also important to take note of the type of coin on the stone. For instance, different coins hold different meanings.

What do individual coins on a gravestone mean?

Old Tradition Of Various American Coins Lying On Gravestone As Sign Of RespectChris Lauer/Getty Images

As you may have guessed, the different coins have different associations. If you notice a quarter on a headstone, for instance, the past visitor is trying to convey something different than if they’d left a penny. Let’s walk through what the individual coin types mean.

If you notice a penny on a gravestone, this signifies that a person has visited the headstone. It’s an act of gratitude for the person’s service. Anyone can leave a penny, whether they are a family member, friend or fellow service person.

If there is a nickel on the gravestone, this means that the visitor who left it went to boot camp with the person buried.

Next, if you see a dime on their gravestone, that signifies that the visitor served with the deceased military member.

Seeing a quarter has a particularly heavy association. If you notice a quarter, this signifies that a previous visitor was present when the soldier passed away.

Now that you understand what each coin means when you see it, you’ll have a better idea of what it means when you see this emotional item left behind at a gravestone. And more importantly, you’ll know the proper way to leave a coin.

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