Patriotic Ink Flowing During War

April 1, 2003
Posted at: 10:29 p.m. CST

JONESBORO, Ark. -- A trend seen after the September 11 attacks is making a comeback as many Americans are showing their patriotism through red, white, and blue inks of tattoos.

Tony Whitaker says that troops will always be associated with tattoos.

"(It is) an old tradition, I guess," Whitaker said.

He got his first soon after joining the Navy.

"(The) first thing my mom told me was don't get a tattoo when you go in, and that's the first thing I came back with.

Many members of the armed forces and their families are getting tattoos as more and more units report for active duty during Operation Iraqi Freedom.

"In the past two weeks," artist Jeremy LeBlanc said. "I've tattooed probably five or six troops that were getting ready to go, or had just graduated basic in another service and were home on leave that were fixing to leave out."

Many of the tattoos are themed with military figures, the American flag and flying eagles. Of the most requested designs is the eagle with the American flag, but artists say people are bringing in their own designs that include red, white and blue. The increased popularity of patriotic skin art is causing certain pigment colors to become depleted.

"As a matter of fact," LeBlanc said. "I just had to order another bottle of red and blue both."

Requests for red, white and blue tattoos have increased by about 60 percent.

"Patriotism seems to be spreading a whole lot more now," LeBlanc said.

Both Whitaker and LeBlanc say that, for our troops sake, they hope red, white and blue will be displayed more often: No matter what it's form.

"I really sympathize with them," LeBlanc said. "I know, I understand what they're going through, and I just wish them luck."

Whitaker added: "My thoughts are, if you don't like what's going on that's fine. But you still gotta support the ones that are over there."