Your ink, your story

Phil Briggs
June 26, 2018 - 2:39 pm

Tattoos and the military have a long storied history.

Tattoos, which date back over 4000 years, have been associated with religion, magic, and tribal war.  It's no secret that there there is a cultural ritual that comes with your first tattoo.  

The connection with the American military dates back to the Civil War, according to the VFW's History of Tattoos.  A German immigrant, Martin Hildebrandt, opened the first tattoo shop in New York City, and then he travelled the country tattooing Civil War soldiers, each with their own regiment and designs.   It stuck.  By 1925, a historian says 90% of naval sailors had tattoos.

And to this day, sailors and soldiers alike find a connection to each other through their ink.  

Is it the ritual? Is it the art?  The story behind the art?  Is it what connects and separates us from everyone else?

We figured... let's ask.

To get started, our team at Connecting Vets decided we'll show you our's ... if your show us your's.

"I got this tattoo at the spur of the moment with some friends during graduate school. I actually had the phrase saved in my phone for a while: "Pray Strong, Stay Strong" but was just waiting for the right time. It's a motto that kept me going through undergrad and grad school and as a Christian, prayer is really important to my life. I thought I would get it in a typewriter font as a nod to my love for old school journalism."

"I was always interested in tattoos. And so my friend dragged me to a tattoo place and said you've always wanted one, "Do it!"  So I got the two most important things in my life: God and music." (Note: Jake's musical taste is similar to his tattoo.  (Metal ... and Kenny G)

"The first tattoo was literally just a cheesy design I picked off the wall of a tattoo shop in College Park, MD, while I was in A-School ... at least I didn't get some awful barbed wire or a super man logo.  Then I decided I wanted to add on to it. The initial thought was to have the flag of everywhere I was stationed, and those were my first two duty stations, the US and Iceland. I ended up being stationed in like 7 or 8 countries over 13 years."  

So why only 2 flags?  "I basically ran out of money."

Eric said the most interesting part of the flags is that the Italian veteran who drew it, was pretty intoxicated. 

That explains the 9 stars on the American flag.



"It’s no secret that I’m, how do I phrase this delicately, a huge f###ing nerd. When I was in college, I had the opportunity to study abroad at Oxford in the U.K. While there, I read a bit of the 20th century philosopher Bertrand Russell and learned about his teapot analogy as a way of explaining where exactly the burden of proof lies. In the analogy, Russell says to imagine a person claiming that there is a teapot orbiting the sun somewhere between Earth and Mars. But the teapot is too small for us to see, and since we can’t exactly just float into space to check it out, there’s just no way to show that the teapot isn’t there.

“Ah,” says someone Russell basically made up, “since you can’t prove the teapot isn’t there, you must assume that it is indeed there.” 

Using this teapot analogy, Russel claimed that many religious people act as though belief in God should be the default assumption and that the burden of proof is on the person (usually a skeptic) to prove that God doesn’t exist. 

A few pages later, the analogy basically says that since we can’t prove the existence of a higher being through observation, we should assume God doesn’t exist until reasonable evidence is presented. In other words, the burden of proof is on the person making the claim that God exists, not on skeptics to prove God does not exist.  When you boil it all down, the teapot argument says it’s impossible to prove a negative and the burden of proof is on the person making the claim, not the person asking for evidence of a claim. It’s something that really resonated with me. Years later in grad school, just a week or two shy of my 30th birthday I got Russell’s teapot inked on my arm and have been explaining it to everyone ever since." (Note: We're just wondering what's in the tea, Matt?)

Now that you've seen ours, hit up our Facebook page and show us yours!

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