Military inspired tattoos needed for museum’s exhibit

Most ink tells a story. This especially holds true in the armed forces.

Most ink tells a story.

This especially holds true in the armed forces.

For many years, warriors have inked their skin to commemorate the time in their lives when they stood prepared to make the ultimate sacrifice, dying for a flag, a cause or a country.

This remains true today.

The White River Valley Museum is seeking submissions for “Service Ink: Veteran’s Tattoos and Their Stories,” an exhibit that recognizes veterans for their sacrifices and stories, and showcases the art of tattooing.

According to Museum Director Patricia Cosgrove, the idea for the exhibit has been bouncing around the “file of tickler ideas” for a couple of years.

“We put our heads together and thought this would be a good way to honor veterans and introduce some of the experiences that a veteran might have had to those who aren’t veterans or in veteran families,” Cosgrove said. “For me, that’s alien, it’s a whole new world I know nothing about it, yet I’m emotionally interested to learn about it. So it’s for us and also for those who lost loved ones and commemorated them with tattoos. It just seemed like a lighthearted way to deal with some not-so-lighthearted issues.”

Interested veterans and their families with tattoos related to service in the armed forces can fill out an entry at

The contest is restricted to Washington state residents.

Participants are asked to submit photographs of their tattoos, following the quality standards listed on the website. All qualified photos will be used in notebooks in the exhibit, with 30 entries picked to be enlarged and highlighted.

Green River College will provide photographers to capture the 30 featured selections, at no cost to entrants.

Deadline for the exhibit – which runs from June 24 and concludes during Auburn’s 50th Veterans Day Observance on Nov. 15 – is April 15.

“One of the goals, I always think of the museum, is to inspire conversation and investigation. You don’t really go into a museum to learn like a classroom, but you might walk away with so many new ideas or concepts you might want to look at a little further,” Cosgrove said.

For more information, visit