Blood, Bullets, and Ink
Earlier this month it was announced that the US army is relaxing their stance on the number and size of tattoos that soldiers can have on their arms, legs, and torso. (Hand and face tattoos are still not allowed.)
Most are hailing this as a positive and progressive move which will allow men and women who were previously unable to enlist the opportunity to take part. But why did this ban exist in the first place?
Since the beginning of human history, warriors have dawned war paint before heading into battle. The US army has maintained a longtime love affair with tattoo culture. Soldiers and sailors are often credited with popularizing tattooing in North America, after returning from travels with tattoos inked in far away lands.
Many soldiers get tattooed to represent their journey. A tattoo of their unit’s patch is worn with pride, representing the bonds forged through training and combat. A badge of honour. Memorial pieces are added as friends are lost, and the body slowly becomes a tapestry of memories – good and bad. Wearing your life, love, and loss on your skin for the rest of your life is a bold commitment, and a beautiful one.
We long for the day when soldiers, and doctors, and school teachers, and baristas, and anyone else who wants, can get tattooed. When we can paint our bodies for war, and for love, and for no special reason at all.
The day is getting closer.