A Memorial Day Tattoo
In military life, the Tattoo bugle call is the evening call to quarters preceding Taps. It is a beautiful call and, to me, a perfect backstop for remembering those who served and sacrificed.
As practically everyone knows, a tattoo is also a piece of artwork permanently inked onto skin. For me, it is both, but the two are intertwined.
If you have read my profile, you know that I attended the US Military Academy at West Point long ago. I did not serve too long, but many of my classmates did (and a few are still on active duty), and I saw first-hand the sacrifices they made every day. Some paid dearly for their service; a few gave everything. All who served and continue to serve (and their families) sacrifice something, whether it be time in combat, or missing a child's birth, or a loved one's passing.
My father served as a weatherman in the Aleutian Islands during WWII, and my grandfather served briefly during WWI. I have a diary of a relative (he would have been an uncle with a few "greats" thrown in) who served during the Civil War. Both he and his brother were killed in action. My husband served in the Army for 20 years, to include a tour as a field artilleryman in Vietnam.
Until recently, my life continued to be closely tied to the military, since my husband and I owned a business that worked primarily on Department of Defense programs. I took that work personally because I was working for my friends and my comrades in arms. We always focused on doing what was best for them and for the Department, not what would make me the most money.
So, where does the tattoo fit in and why am I on ActiveRain these days? Last summer, my sister and I decided to get tattoos (it just seemed to be the thing to do at the time). I thought a long time about what tattoo I should get, and ultimately came to the conclusion that my tattoo should reflect where I had been and where I was going. I thought back on the things that had shaped my life -- my family, my time at West Point, my time in the Army,and my defense contracting career after that. My life had gone through many changes in the 3 years prior to our decision to get tattooed. My mother had passed away about 3 1/2 years before, and my husband had passed away nearly 2 years back. I had also lost my brother about 4 years earlier. We had all been involved in our contracting business, and their passing ultimately left just my sister and me, and that wasn't enough for our business to continue. It was time to move into something new, and real estate became my new life.
And my tattoo? It is a phoenix. To me, it symbolizes my moving on and being successful in my
new life. But that success must be built on everything that came before. My phoenix rises from the ashes of my past. It is not that I burned or tried to destroy my past, but rather, everthing that was in my past shaped me and became part of me. Everyone and everything that touched my life -- my family, my friends, my time in the military -- provided the substance to allow me to go on.
On this Memorial Day, I honor those, both known and unknown, who have served and sacrificed. Every day when I see my tattoo, I remember and thank those who have touched my life and have given me the strength and support to move ahead.
Have a happy and safe Memorial Day.