Every year the Idaho Division of Veterans Services invites us to their Memorial Day Ceremony at the Idaho State Veterans Cemetery.  If you go this year, keep your eyes open for these very special coins. 

This year's ceremony will take place on Monday, May 27 at 10 a.m.  Those interested in attending can park at Optimist Park at Hill and Horseshoe Bend Roads to catch a shuttle to the ceremony before it begins.  If you've never been to it before, it's really something special to be part of. It includes a wreath presentation, aircraft fly over and representation by the Army, Marine Corps, Navy and Air Force.  As you walk around, you'll notice that each gravesite has been decorated with a single U.S. flag placed as a sign of respect for our fallen soldiers.

Get a little closer and you may notice coins on some of the headstones as well. Why are they there and what do they mean? According to Snopes, each denomination of coin left behind by visitors represents a different message to the fallen soldier's family.

  • Penny: Means you visited to pay respect.
  • Nickel: Means you were part of boot camp at the same time as the fallen soldier.
  • Dime: Means you served with the fallen soldier at sometime during their time in the service.
  • Quarter: Means you were present when the soldier was killed.

It's also not uncommon to find coins that don't fit the description of US currency on the stones as well.  These may be challenge coins representing a branch of the military, unit or mission.

So what happens to all of those coins? If they're left in a national or state veterans cemeteries, they're usually collected and put toward either the burial costs for needy veterans or upkeep of the facility.