People sometimes use tattoos as a creative way to honor someone who died. Whether you are in the military and would like to acknowledge one of your fallen comrades, or you are a civilian looking for ideas on how to commemorate the life of a member of the U.S. Army, this article is for you.
Jump ahead to these sections:
- Small US Army Memorial Tattoo Ideas
- Larger US Army Memorial Tattoo Ideas
- Sayings or Quotes for an Army Memorial Tattoo
Let’s go over some U.S. Army memorial tattoos and design ideas that can have a large or small place of honor on your body.
Post-loss tip: Finding a unique way to memorialize your loved one might be just one of the challenges you're facing after a loss—especially if you're the executor of the person's estate. Our post-loss checklist can help sort out what you might need to do next.
Small US Army Memorial Tattoo Ideas
Even a small tattoo can be a lovely reminder of someone you lost. Wondering what to do in memory of someone? Go for a few of these small tattoo ideas.
1. Dog tags
A dog tag tattoo can be large or small. The text on the tattooed dog tags can be the same as what appeared on your loved one’s real dog tag (which includes name, Social Security number, blood type, and religious preference.) Don’t use your loved one’s Social Security number on your tattoo. Instead, consider replacing some of the text with “rest in peace” or “gone but not forgotten.”
You may choose to have the dog tag chain tattoo wrap around your neck, wrist, or ankle.
2. Fallen soldier tattoo
The classic design for a fallen soldier is one that depicts a helmet atop a gun near military-issue boots. This tattoo may imply that the soldier died during active duty, but it could also be used to remember a soldier who died as a result of an injury incurred while serving his country.
Consider personalizing this image with the name of the fallen soldier you plan to honor. You can do so by adding your loved one’s name above or below the image.
Poppies are used to remember the fallen soldiers of World War I. British people often wear poppies on Remembrance Day, similar to Memorial Day in the U.S.
You may choose to use the image of a poppy to remember your deceased soldier’s life, even if he or she died during another conflict or war.
4. Yellow ribbon
Remembrance ribbons aren’t just for cancer. A yellow remembrance ribbon supports the military forces, especially those currently deployed. The history of the yellow ribbon is fascinating and dates back to a song from the 1600s that describes a woman wearing a yellow ribbon to remember her love, off fighting a war.
Some choose to have words tattooed within the shape of the yellow ribbon. You may explain your relationship to the deceased, such as “my son” or “my wife.”
Larger US Army Memorial Tattoo Ideas
Military funerals are poignant and moving ways to honor a U.S. Army veteran. It’s hard for anyone in attendance to be unaffected by the 21-gun salute or the presentation of the colors to the deceased’s family.
Tattoos are also beautiful tributes to fallen soldiers. Here are some ideas for memorial tattoos that may look better if drawn larger rather than smaller.
5. Kneeling soldier
If you are a member of the military and you would like to honor fallen comrades, you may consider getting a tattoo of a kneeling soldier.
These can be done in various styles and you may easily add religious imagery to the design.
6. American flag
American flag tattoos are extremely popular when remembering a fallen military member.
The flag may be shown waving and tattered on the battlefield, or it may be folded traditionally when presented to the family member at a military funeral.
American symbols are popular among the military, and wings are symbols of death. An eagle is especially appropriate for an Army memorial tattoo.
8. Soldier in uniform
If you know a tattoo artist who has a talent for portraits, consider having a tattoo done that shows your soldier in uniform.
Show others that you will remember this special soldier forever by getting his face tattooed on your arm or leg.
9. Soldier silhouette
Consider getting a tattoo that shows the shadow image of a soldier silhouette. The soldier may be crouched with a gun, saluting a flag, or looking up at a helicopter flying.
If you are honoring a group of fallen soldiers, consider adding the deceased’s initials and the dates of death.
10. Uncle Sam
Consider using the classic image of Uncle Sam for your tattoo. Your deceased loved one answered Uncle Sam’s call. Be proud of his or her sacrifice.
Sayings or Quotes for an Army Memorial Tattoo
Are you looking for the perfect words to accompany an army memorial tattoo? Here are some ideas.
Some people choose to put the fallen soldier’s name on the tattoo, and others only use the initials.
11. “We Will Remember You”
Perhaps you are getting a tattoo with others who are mourning a fallen soldier or groups of soldiers. If so, the phrase “we will remember you” may be appropriate.
12. “Honor the Fallen”
Looking for a way to honor a fallen soldier? Consider this simple phrase, as well as a list of the soldiers who were important to you. A talented tattoo artist would be able to think of an artistic way to add each name.
13. “Army Strong”
Most of the tattoos on this list so far aren’t specific to the Army. The U.S. Army has been using “Army Strong” as a slogan for more than a decade. Consider using these two words for your Army memorial tattoo.
14. “Be strong and courageous, for the Lord will be there wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9
This is a shortened version of the verse found in Joshua 1:9. It reminds families of soldiers that no matter what happens, God is with your soldier.
15. “Freedom Isn’t Free”
This phrase is found on shirts and bumper stickers, so why shouldn’t you use it for a tattoo? This tattoo could remind others of your sacrifice for the country.
16. “The high price of freedom is a cost paid by a brave few.”
Sometimes people need to be reminded that all the freedom they enjoy was purchased for them by an American soldier.
17. “I love my soldier.”
There’s no reason to use the past tense for the word “love.” Even if your soldier is no longer living, you still love him.
18. “All Give Some; Some Give All”
You may consider getting a tattoo of a phrase instead of an image. This phrase describes the sacrifice of your loved one for his or her country. You could also personalize this phrase with a picture of the fallen soldier or his or her name.
19. “Never Forget”
Of course, you don’t want others to forget your soldier’s sacrifice. This phrase may follow a specific battle or war that took the life of your loved one.
Other Ways to Remember a Fallen Soldier
If getting a tattoo isn’t your style, you may not trust a tattoo artist to produce a permanent image on your body, or you may not be able to stand the pain of the needle. If you are hesitant to get a tattoo, here are other ideas to remember your deceased Army veteran.
Consider performing acts of service to remember a soldier who served her country. Write letters to military members serving overseas. Donate to charitable organizations that support veterans and their families. Attend Veteran’s Day parades and stand when groups of veterans go by the parade route. Decorate the grave of your fallen soldier with an American flag.
If you are afraid that others will forget your loved one, talk about her. Share stories and photographs. Ask others to share their favorite memories of the deceased.