If you find a coin on a loved one’s gravestone, you had better know what it means.

We all have our own ways of remembering and honoring our beloved family members who have passed away. It is important to respect the traditions of others when it comes to celebrating the lives of those we have lost. Even if these practices or customs are unfamiliar to us, they are still meaningful and valid.

Gravestones and how families decorate them can be similar. One popular tradition is placing coins on headstones. But why do people do this? And where did it start? Keep reading to learn more.

I observed a custom of placing coins on gravestones in cemeteries across the US and beyond. As a child, I first noticed this when visiting my grandfather’s grave, and it made me curious about its significance.

Luckily, a quick online search can reveal the true origins without much effort. In the past, it was thought that this practice originated from the military forces in the Roman Empire. However, many sources have debunked this misconception in recent times.

Coins left on gravestones have a connection to the military, dating back to the Vietnam War as mentioned on the American Legion Website.

Due to the political divide in the country over the war, leaving a coin was seen as a more practical way to communicate that you had visited the grave than contacting the soldier’s family, which could devolve into an uncomfortable argument over politics relating to the war.” 


Coins left on gravestones can also be a way for veterans to pay tribute to their fellow soldiers who have passed away, with some leaving coins to symbolize buying them a drink. Each coin left holds a unique meaning, according to sources.

A penny signifies someone’s presence, whereas a nickel is a tribute from a fellow boot camp comrade of the deceased.

A dime represents military service time shared. Quarters indicate presence during a loved one’s passing.


Have you ever come across a coin placed on a gravestone? Were you aware of its significance? Share your thoughts in the comments.

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