Society

If You See A Coin On A Grave, Here's What It Means

| by Sean Kelly
Coin on a soldier's headstone/graveCoin on a soldier's headstone/grave

A man cleaning headstones at a national cemetery discovered a coin placed on one of the stones and decided to investigate. What he learned stunned him.

Dave Malenfant works at National Cemetery in Holly, Michigan, and one of his jobs is to clean the headstones, according to Q Political. "I noticed a quarter placed on one of the stones. Later I also noticed a nickel placed on another [...] stone, I was so touched with this that I took pictures. (sorry the nickel did not turn out) I googled about the coins, and found this out. I am very proud to share this,” Malenfant wrote in a Facebook post. 

“A coin left on a headstone lets the deceased soldiers family know that somebody stopped by to pay their respect. Leaving a penny means you visited.

A nickel means that you and the deceased soldier trained at boot camp together. If you served with the soldier, you leave a dime. A quarter is very significant because it means that you were there when that soldier died.”

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Snopes further detailed the tradition of placing coins at graves in an article.

The earliest known coins date to the late seventh century B.C. As societies began embracing monetary systems, coins began being left in the graves of its citizens merely as yet another way of equipping the dear departed in the afterlife.

Mythologies within certain cultures added specific purpose for coins being left with the dead. In Greek mythology, Charon, the ferryman of Hades, required payment for his services. A coin was therefore placed in the mouth of the dear departed to ensure he would ferry the deceased across the rivers Styx and Acheron and into the world of the dead rather than leave him to wander the shore for a hundred years. In England and the U.S., pennies were routinely placed on the closed eyes of the dead, yet the purpose for that practice was not clear — some say it was to keep the eyes of the corpse from flying open, yet the eyes, once shut by the person laying out the body, do not reopen.

In these more modern days, coins and other small items are sometimes discovered on grave markers, be they plaques resting atop the sod or tombstones erected at the head of the burial plot. These small tokens are left by visitors for no greater purpose than to indicate that someone has visited that particular grave. It has long been a tradition among Jews, for example, to leave a small stone or pebble atop a headstone just to show that someone who cared had stopped by. Coins (especially pennies) are favored by others who wish to demonstrate that the deceased has not been forgotten and that instead his loved ones still visit him.

Sources: Q Political, Snopes, Dave Malenfant/Facebook / Photo credit: Q Political

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