Perhaps you visited a cemetery here in Minnesota over the Memorial Day weekend and saw a penny or coins on top of a headstone. We now know what it means.

I needed to head back to my hometown in central Wisconsin a few weeks ago for the funeral of one of my childhood friend's mom. As a part of the service, the procession ended with a graveside burial at a local cemetery, which got me thinking about final resting places, both here and in Wisconsin.

Here in Minnesota, for instance, there are four different types of cemeteries and the way they're owned and operated, according to information from the Minnesota Association of Cemeteries. Minnesota cemeteries can can be:

  • A nonprofit association, governed by a board of trustees or directors
  • Owned by a church, synagogue or other religious organization
  • City-owned, also called municipal
  • A for-profit company, public or private

All this cemetery talk also reminded me about a conversation I had with a friend the other day who, like many of us, visited his parents' graves over the Memorial Day holiday. On a headstone near their grave sites, he noticed a shiny penny sitting there and wondered what it meant.


I can't say I've ever observed a similar instance of seeing a penny (or other coins) on a headstone. I've seen mostly flowers, along with a few other keepsakes, on some graves but never any coins.

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However, after doing a little research online, it turns out that if you see coins on a grave here in Minnesota, it DOES have a specific meaning. According to this story from WideOpenCountry, coins can often be seen placed on the graves of deceased military members. Seeing coins on a grave lets the deceased soldier's family know that someone has come to visit the grave.

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And, the story notes that each coin has a specific meaning, too:

Leaving a penny means you visited and want to thank the veteran of the armed forces for their service. A nickel left at a grave means you trained at boot camp with the deceased servicemen, while a dime suggests you served with him or her. Finally, a quarter signifies if previous visitors were with the soldier when they passed away.

What a cool thing to do! If you've never heard of this coin custom, don't worry, it's apparently fairly new. The story said it's really only become popular here in the U.S. since 2009 or so, even though some believe its origins can actually be traced back to the Vietnam war.

The story also noted that those coins are often collected and used for the upkeep of the cemetery. Have you ever seen coins on top of a headstone? Meanwhile, some people like to steer clear of cemeteries, believing they're haunted. Keep scrolling to check out some OTHER places sometimes believe are haunted, as well.

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