Learn What Coins Left On Soldiers' Tombstones Mean

Posted at 5:47 PM, May 27, 2018

If you visit Stones River National Battlefield and Cemetery, you'll likely see coins on the top of many tombstones. According to park workers, the small mementos are a way some choose to pay their respects to the fallen soldier, and each kind of coin has a different meaning.

For example, a penny lets a soldier's family know someone visited the grave site. As the coin's value goes up, so does the connection between the person who left it there and the person buried there.

"You'll see a nickel, that might mean they trained at the same boot camp together," said Education Coordinator John McKay. "A dime might be more of a division that's still around."

A quarter means that person was on the field when the soldier died.

"If you go further down the Vietnam and Korean era, you could put a quarter down," McKay said. "Fellow comrades might come here to pay their respects and lay a quarter down."

McKay said the cemetery appreciates the meaning and thoughtfulness behind the tokens, but the coins can actually become a hazard if they fall into the grass and are hit by a lawn mower.

That's why he said Stones River encourages visitors to leave the grave sites untouched and instead donate those coins inside the Visitor's Center.