When someone you love dies, it’s important to never let the memory of them disappear. Visiting their tombstone is one way to ensure that your memories never fade. It’s always sad to remind yourself that they’re gone, but it feels good to show respect any way you can.

Dave Malenfant has worked at the National Military Cemetery in Holly, Michigan for years, and in that time he’s seen a lot of different ways that people pay their respects to fallen heroes. But one practice in particular really got his attention.

He noticed a lot of mourners stopping and placing pennies, nickels, dimes, and quarters on the gravestones of dead soldiers. Curious, he looked into it further… and discovered something truly fascinating.

It’s important to hold the memories of our deceased friends and family dear, keeping their legacies alive as time passes. The memories of them are all we have left, and we should try to preserve those memories for as long as possible.

5Tim Green / Flickr

Even though those friends may be gone, visiting their tombstones is one of the things we can do as survivors to pay our respects. It’s sad to spend time in the presence of someone you loved who is no longer alive, but it’s an important way to show how much they still mean to you.

6The U.S. Army / Flickr

There are many different ways to pay tribute. Some people bring flowers to the grave site, and others simply pray. But something very interesting is being done to the headstones of fallen military soldiers.


People have been leaving coins on top of the headstones. The first time you hear about this tradition, it might sound odd. Why would anyone leave spare change on top of a grave? But, the reason behind this practice is very interesting.


The practice of leaving coins on gravestones became common sometime around World War II, though it’s not exactly clear why. Since then, placing coins on the gravestone of fallen members of the military has become a symbolic gesture of love to comrades that are no longer with us.


At first, it began as a way to simply acknowledge the dead. Initially, placing a coin every time you went to visit was to show the frequency with which you paid respect to them. But over time, it has taken on more meaning. 

coins military grave

Different coins mean different things. For example, a penny means that you were merely paying your respects, while a dime means that you served with that soldier. A quarter means you were there when that soldier lost their life.


The U.S. Army has no official stance regarding this tradition, but people have made it their own. When the Army realized this was happening, they didn’t discourage it at all. They truly appreciate any display of remembrance.

ARLINGTON, VA - DECEMBER 14: A man, who declined to be identified due to security concerns, touches the headstone of Petty Officer 1st Class Aaron Carson Vaughn, U.S. Navy Seal, in Section 60 of Arlington National Cemetery, December 14, 2013 in Arlington, Virginia. Carson died August 6, 2011 in Wardak province, Afghanistan. Volunteers and families of the fallen placed thousands of remembrance wreaths on headstones throughout the cemetery on National Wreaths Across America Day. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)


If you have a friend or loved one that bravely served their country, the next time you visit their gravestone, think about bringing some change with you. Now that you know the meaning behind it, it will serve as an important gesture to all who pass by.


Watching this beautiful tradition will bring tears to your eyes. It’s so important to remember the lives of the brave people who fought so hard for us to have the freedom we enjoy today. They will never be forgotten.

You would have had no idea that this was such a powerful and meaningful symbol. It’s a simple gesture that means the world to the families left behind by those who gave their lives for their country.

Spread the word about this touching tradition with others below.