Monday, May 28, 2012

Memorial Day 2012

I saw the following on a FB page today and it is far too good not to repost. Authorship unknown:


While visiting some cemeteries you may notice that headstones marking certain graves have coins on them, left by previous visitors to the grave. These coins have distinct meanings when left on the headstones of those who gave their life while serving in America's military, & these meanings vary depending on the denomination of coin.

A coin left on a headstone or at the grave site is meant as a message to the deceased soldier's family that someone else has visited the grave to pay respect. Leaving a penny at the grave means simply that you visited.

A nickel indicates that you & the deceased trained at boot camp together,while a dime means you served with him in some capacity. By leaving a quarter at the grave, you are telling the family that you were with the solider when he was killed. According to tradition, the money left at graves in national cemeteries & state veterans cemeteries is eventually collected, & the funds are put toward maintaining the cemetery or paying burial costs for indigent veterans.

In the U.S., this practice became common during the Vietnam war, due to the political divide in the country over the war; leaving a coin was seen as a more practical way to communicate that you had visited the grave than contacting the soldier's family, which could devolve into an uncomfortable argument over politics relating to the war. Some Vietnam veterans would leave coins as a "down payment" to buy their fallen comrades a beer or play a hand of cards when they would finally be reunited.

The tradition of leaving coins on the headstones of military men & women can be traced to as far back as the Roman Empire.

RLK here. 

It's the Jewish tradition to leave a stone; the original purpose of the custom was grave maintenance, as a pile of stones in the desert indicated a grave in ancient times, and the idea was to restore the pile. This custom may be related to this.  It is also a custom to put pennies on the eyes of the deceased or in the grave; my brother and I did that at my mother's funeral. 

Today I'll be doing it the traditional American way: I'm taking flags to Dad's grave and those of my other relations who served in the wars--Uncle Tom (North Africa, Sicily, D-Day, Operation Anvil (South France), Iwo Jima and Okanawa), Uncle John Paul (Guadalcanal), and Great Uncle Gerald (WWI and the Philippines Moro Revolt).

All I can say is this:

"Earn this. Earn it!"

This was not just a line in a movie to a fictional character.

It is a message to all of us.

Earth this. Earn it!

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Keep it clean for gene.