Fallen Soldier / Battlefield Cross Tattoo
Fallen Soldier tattoo above on US Marine Sergeant Inman, done at Hart & Huntington, via Grunt.com.
This Memorial Day weekend in the US is a time to commemorate the men and women who died while in the military service. There are many tattoos created in tribute to those lost in war, many of which you can find on sites like Military.com or Grunt.com, from which the tattoo above was posted.
One common motif for military memorial tattoos is that of the Fallen Soldier or Battlefield Cross, as represented here in Sgt. Inman's tribute. As per Wikipedia (which is not a verified source, of course): "The practice started during the American Civil War or maybe earlier as a means of identifying the bodies on the battleground before they were removed. Today, it is an immediate means of showing respect for the fallen among the still living members of the troop." The Wiki page also led to more info found in the US Army's "Soldier's Guide," which offers more on the symbolism of the Battlefield Cross:
Most units prepare a visible reminder of the deceased soldier similar to that depicted in Figure C-1. The helmet and identification tags signify the fallen soldier. The inverted rifle with bayonet signals a time for prayer, a break in the action to pay tribute to our comrade. The combat boots represent the final march of the last battle. The beret (in the case of soldiers from airborne units) reminds us that the soldier has taken part in his final jump.Naturally, there are variations in the interpretation of this iconic tribute, which leads to some interesting research behind the imagery found in so many memorial tattoos.
See more Fallen Soldier tattoos via Google image.
Also interesting is the history behind Memorial Day itself. In this NY Times article, David W. Blight, a professor of history at Yale University, states that the origins of Memorial Day derived from "a mostly forgotten--or possibly suppressed--event in Charleston, S.C., in 1865 at a racetrack turned war prison. Black workmen properly reburied the Union dead that were found there, and on May 1, a cemetery dedication was held, attended by thousands of freed blacks who marched in procession around the track."
And so, while we take time with family and friends, and for ourselves, this weekend, let's also reflect on the meaning of this day.
Tattoo above by Jerrett of Monarch Tattoo in Washington.