It started in New York, in the early fall. The air was becoming crisp and the leaves became gold. Veterans Day was right around the corner, so it was a pretty natural idea to come to us: Veterans tattoos. What a better way to celebrate a soldier’s life than the ink he’s chosen to wear forever. Most of us have a story behind our pieces and for many Veterans, it’s no different. The day they were inducted into the army, the day they received their tags...the day they lost their friends on the fields of battle; many of these, and more, could be shared through a heartfelt visual narrative.
Sig and I were going from neighborhood to neighborhood searching for Veterans with tattoos; hitting all the clubs, organizations and American Legion posts. We had a few hot leads that ultimately dissipated into the air like ghosts. Several elder Veterans, proudly wearing insignia and regalia, would tell us stories of their friends who were secretly covered; back when they were in the army, it wasn't so acceptable. But, regardless, they had been tattooed in every port around the world...Tokyo, London, Venice, you name it….and these tattooed Veterna's favorite hometown bars were always right around the corner. But unfortunately, many of them had already passed on…the bartender hadn’t seen them in years.
It was then that we found Jeremy through our huge following on Tattoodo. We had put out a call for Veterans with tattoos, and his story stood out against them all. Driving up to Connecticut to meet with him, there was a relaxed, but excited, feeling in the car. We knew it would be good.
And it was. Jeremy opened up to us like few do, especially when a camera is present. He showed us his favorite spots in the cold, sleepy Connecticut town. He took us fishing and shared a few beers with us between stories. Telling us the memories behind all of his pieces, his 8 years in service had certainly taken a toll. There were highlights, good times, but quickly followed by the realities of war and the PTSD that many soldiers shoulder for the rest of their lives. Jeremy let us into his world and was beautifully, brutally, honest about his experience.
In the end, it’s like this for many of us: our tattoos are visual reminders of our experiences through this life. Our pitfalls, our traumas, our achievements, our loves...each one beautifully illustrated onto our skin for all the world to see. It’s not always about the quality or the technique with which a piece is made...sometimes tattoos are deeply meaningful because they stand for what we survived through. They are symbols of our resilience; they remind us that we can continue.
Our hopes for this video are similar for everything that Tattoodo puts out: we show you that everyone’s voice should have a space to be heard. We are collectively important, significant, and without our experiences, our stories, we have no way to relate or evolve with one another.
Deepest thanks to Jeremy for reaching out, for letting us in, and for being there. We hope you enjoy this episode of War Paint.