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Do You Know The History Behind The Military Tattoo?

Oct 19, 2007
The military tattoo has a long history within the various branches of service in the United States. Soldiers have come to view the tattoo as a sign of commitment to their fellow soldiers and as an identifying mark.

Divisions and brigades take pride in their own symbols and characters and soldiers look forward to the day when they can wear that symbol and hold their head high.

The United States Navy has the longest and richest military tattoo tradition. The anchor symbol has become one of the most easily recognizable tattoos in the world.

The sailors introduced the practice of tattooing to the other military branches in the early 1900's when they would return from voyages that had literally taken them around the world.

As the sailors traveled to distant places and saw that the art of tattooing was alive and well, they began to create tattoos that represented who they were as a group.

The Army soon noticed the practices of the Navy. Many Army tattoos currently utilize some variation of the American Flag. Whether the flag is integrated into an eagle's wing or into the shape of a heart, the red, white and blue usually plays a prominent role.

Another theme commonly found in a military tattoo, particularly in the Army, is that of the POW-MIA theme. These tattoos pay homage to the prisoners of war who are missing in action.

The United States Marine Corps has it own versions of the military tattoo. Though not as wildly popular in this branch of the service as in the Navy and Army, the Marines still have a long history of tattooing within certain regiments and brigades.

One of the most popular Marine Corps tattoos is of a bulldog. Marines are typically the first strike in a United States Military campaign, and they pride themselves on toughness, tenacity, and stubbornness. The bulldog is a perfect symbol for what they represent.

Those who serve in the Air Force typically sport tattoos with wings incorporated in them. Pilots may include numbers or details of a certain fighter. The history of Air Force tattoos is still being written, but as the practice of tattooing becomes more popular, it is growing within the ranks.

Amongst people who have fought side by side, tattoos are much more than just ink and pictures. A military tattoo is a constant reminder of the hardships and struggles that were endured as a team, and of those who may have been left behind.

Even once some people have left the military, they choose to get a new tattoo in order to remember a fallen comrade or other momentous event.
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