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Why Soldiers Leave Coins as a Memorial
kgw ^ | May 20, 2014

Posted on 05/23/2014 9:58:48 PM PDT by george76

Have you ever noticed coins on a gravestone, and wondered why they were there? When a U.S. service member or loved one leaves a coin on a gravestone it has special significance. Though the meaning of this custom has changed over time, it’s a tradition with a long history.The idea of leaving coins with the departed dates back as far as the Greeks and Romans.

According to Greek mythology, the River Styx separates the living from the dead and Charon, the ferryman of Hades, will not carry your soul across without a payment. So unless you had a coin, your soul would be doomed to spend 100 years in solitude along the shore. This is why family members and loved ones would place coins in the mouths or over the eyes of the departed, in order to ensure safe passage into the afterlife.

Romans left coins of different denominations on graves. Each coin conveyed a different meaning. U.S. service members carried on the tradition after the Vietnam War. Soldiers used it as a way to communicate with their fallen comrade’s families without having to say a word. Since the politics surrounding the Vietnam War were so controversial, this nonverbal practice allowed soldiers to pay their respects without risking a debate with the family of the fallen. Each coin on a soldier’s grave tells a different story.

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TOPICS: Military/Veterans
KEYWORDS: coins; memorial; memorialday; soldiers

1 posted on 05/23/2014 9:58:48 PM PDT by george76
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To: george76

even back then, stinkin’ death taxes...

2 posted on 05/23/2014 10:03:44 PM PDT by Secret Agent Man (Gone Galt; Not averse to Going Bronson.)
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To: george76

a touching tradition

3 posted on 05/23/2014 10:21:56 PM PDT by maine-iac7 (Christian is as Christian does - by their fruits)
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To: maine-iac7

Thanks for this. Learn something new every day.

4 posted on 05/24/2014 12:06:58 AM PDT by tbird-james
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To: tbird-james

Agreed. Excellent article and very informative. Now I know why.

5 posted on 05/24/2014 1:52:30 AM PDT by itssme
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To: george76

I was at Arlington National Cemetery yesterday. There were many coins scattered over the Kennedy grave. There was a sign asking people NOT to throw coins at the astronaut/Iran hostage rescue memorial....but I think there was grass in front, and those coins would become mowing missiles. At the cemetery on West Point, many of the grave stones have little piles of rocks that have been left on them by visitors.

6 posted on 05/24/2014 2:32:52 AM PDT by Explorer89 (And now, let the wild rumpus start!!)
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To: Explorer89

Leaving a pebble on a gravestone is a Jewish tradition IIRC.

7 posted on 05/24/2014 4:17:46 AM PDT by elcid1970 ("In the modern world, Muslims are living fossils.")
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To: elcid1970

I think youre right. and old timer funeral directors would leave things like paper clips or coins. I was told that its a way to leave a little piece of you there.

8 posted on 05/24/2014 5:06:48 AM PDT by Yorlik803 ( Church/Caboose in 2016)
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