With Memorial Day only a few weeks away, I’d like share a tradition I have started with my daughter. This will be the third year we honor our fallen military.
Perhaps you’ve been to a cemetery and seen coins on the tombstones but never understood why. There are a variety of beliefs as to how this came about and why. I am focusing on the present and our military personnel.
Penny = you visited the grave
Nickel = you trained in bit camp together
Dime = you served in the same company
Quarter = you were there when they died
Each year, I take my daughter to the Sacramento Valley National Cemetery. We take a bag of 50 pennies. She picks the headstone. I read the name, rank, branch and years of birth/death. She then places a penny on the headstone and says, “Thank you for your service”.
I am teaching her the real reason behind Memorial Day. I am teaching her that freedom isn’t free. It can get emotional. It can raise questions you might not be prepared to answer (depending on the child’s age). However, I personally believe it is important to honor those who fight and die for us.
This picture was from last year. It was the final grave we visited and I will never forget it. My daughter thought it was “funny” that there was a bottle of beer there. I explained why some people do that. As I went to read the headstone, I stopped. My daughter looked at me, just after I wiped a tear that was threatening to fall. I told her that the Marine (if I remember correctly) that was buried there, was her brother’s age. She made a slight gasping noise, bent down, hugged the stone and then said, “thank you for your service”. Then my tears really fell as I said a sllient prayer for his family.
As an Army mom of a soldier in the 82nd Airborne, I consider it an honor to make this acknowledgment each year.
Won’t you consider joining us in our tradition?