Why are coins left on military tombstones? There's a meaning behind each one

Military tradition dictates what each coin means


ORLANDO, Fla. – There's a reason why visitors will see coins placed on top of military headstones in cemeteries. 

Greenwood Cemetery in Orlando is home to Union and Confederate Civil War veterans, veterans of the Spanish-American War and veterans of World War I and World War II. 

"We have people come by and they leave coins, which is an old military-style tradition," Greenwood Cemetery Sexton Don Price said. 

Leaving coins on a headstone is meant as a message to the family of the deceased that someone has visited the grave to pay their respects.

There is also a reason why certain coins are placed instead of others. 

As the tradition goes, a penny on a headstone means the coin giver visited a grave, while a nickel means the person and the deceased trained together at boot camp.

A dime means the person who left the coin served with the deceased in some capacity and a quarter means they were with the deceased when they were killed.

The amount of money left on headstones at Greenwood Cemetery doesn't amount to a lot. However, Price said cemeteries will typically keep coins on military headstones for a period of time, before using the money to help with maintenance of the cemetery.

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