Veterans visit their fallen brothers and sisters at cemeteries all around the globe every day. Most people pay their respects by leaving some flowers to decorate the area while others leave a personal touch. Some of the tokens left at gravesites have rich history and deep meaning.
Check out these five ways we’ve paid homage to our fallen.
1. Connection through coins
We’re not talking about command coins, even though leaving one is still respectful. We’re talking about quarters, dimes, and nickels. Each coin has a special meaning attached to them that dates back to WWII.
- A penny on a headstone is a message to the fallen’s family that someone visited the grave to pay their respects.
- A nickel indicates the grave was visited by another veteran who trained in boot camp with the deceased.
- A dime means the veterans served together in some way.
- A quarter tells the family that someone visited the site who was near the hero when he or she died.
2. Placing stones on the headstones
If you haven’t seen Schindler’s List, then you need to stream it tonight after you buy a box of tissues (trust me, you’re going to need them). At the very end of the film, you’ll see a powerful moment where “Schindler’s Jews” and the actors who played them in the film place stones on his gravesite.
Many Jewish military veterans continue this tradition of placing stones on the graves to help keep the dead from haunting the living.
3. Sticking lit cigarettes into the ground
Go to any base, and you’ll see service members “smoking and joking” at designated areas called “smoke pits.” It’s a time where we socialize while puffing on a cigarette or enjoying a lip full of dip.
If the fallen was known for his or her tobacco use, lighting a cigarette for them to smoke is a standard practice.
4. Leaving a small bottle or two of liquor
The majority of service members drink — it’s just what we do when we bond with our military brothers and sisters. So that tradition carries on well after we get out. When we visit one of our fallen comrades at the cemetery, we commonly bring their favorite alcoholic beverage with us and leave it behind.
If we feel like it, we’ll even take a shot with them.
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5. Reliving old memories
There’s nothing better for veterans than to get together with their military family while visiting a deceased grave site and relive the good times through story. Having a few beers and reminding the group all the funny experiences you had with the fallen can be incredibly therapeutic and bring the group closer together.
What are some unique ways you’ve paid you’re respects? Comment below.