The meaning behind coins left on memorials
Coins left on military memorials have distinct meanings for those who gave their life while serving.
If you visit the Lee Highway Memorial and the Chattanooga National Cemetery to pay your respects, you may notice coins left on memorials and headstones.
This token of appreciation is an old military tradition that dates back to the Roman Empire.
The idea is for visitors to leave coins on memorials to pay respect to the fallen, but the significance and meaning of each coin is different.
Pennies, nickels, dimes and quarters cover the Lee Highway Memorial. To some it may look like small pocket change, but to others it means much more.
Shiny pieces of copper and nickel reflect each morning as the sun rises over the Lee Highway Memorial. Five stone monuments stand to remember the fallen.
On them, spare change left by visitors to pay tribute to the five service members taken too soon.
Marine Corp Veteran, Keith Wheatley says, it’s a tradition that allows family members to see that someone came to honor their marine or sailor.
"I guess any place where a memorial type thing is, people tend to want to leave things showing that they came to pay their respect,” Wheatley said.
Each coin has a story and each denomination has a unique meaning.
"It's about all you can do, when things happen like this, people don't know what to do so we want to hang out be around and be a part of it,” Wheatley said.
A penny represents a visitor who did not know the deceased well but wants to pay respect. A nickel represents someone who went through boot camp or training with the fallen. And a dime shows that they served in combat together.
"A quarter has a special significance in that it means that the person who left it was present when these people lost their lives," Wheatley said.
Though the tradition started in the military, the Chattanooga community is now participating too.
For some it's a coin, for others a salute and some pause for prayer.
Each with their own way to say thank you for the fallen five's sacrifice and service.
After a while the coins and momentous are collected and donated to local organizations in honor of the Fallen Five.