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The sad thruth that many youngsters don like to hear! Taken from Shannon Larrat’s facebook, this is what he has to say :

“Oh man, this is so true. I guess it reflects our narcissistic society that many a first tattoo is on the neck or the forearm or hand, rather than “private skin”… I suppose that in the past people got tattoos for themselves, whereas these days, people get tattoos for others to see. All a part of the elaborate posturing and posing and bragging that humans have been doing in one form or another for the last 30,000 years or more… so I suppose one should not read all that much into any of this.”

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Tattoo by Megan Hoogland (4)

Megan Hoogland is considered one of the top female tattoo artists in the United States. She specializes in both portrait and reproduction tattoos, and works well with black and grey and/or color designs.

Tattoo by Megan Hoogland (1)

Tattoo by Megan Hoogland (3)

Tattoo by Megan Hoogland (2)

Tattoo by Megan Hoogland (5)

Photos © Megan Hoogland
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Reuters Senior photographers Jason Reed and Larry Downing traveled across the country recently to attend two different tattoo conventions in Hampton Roads, Virginia, and Cincinnati, Ohio, while working on a multimedia project entitled, “Addicted to the Needle” which opens a window into the private world and the culture of tattooing.

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America’s troops too often come home from war only to remain a step apart from the rest of the nation. The chasm between the military and civilian populations has never been greater. It’s simple math: Less than one percent of Americans now serve in the military, compared with 12 percent during World War II. So after a decade of unrelenting war, with some soldiers and Marines serving four or more combat tours, many Americans still don’t know a single soldier, sailor or airman.

Veterans will tell you that one of the most jarring experiences of their service is the sudden immersion back into a society seemingly unaware that there are any wars going on at all. While they fought, their country went about its business. So they must find their own ways to acknowledge their experiences. A common ritual is the commemorative tattoo. Troops honor fallen buddies, venerate their units, reiterate war mottos, engrave themselves with religious prose, or dream up art that reflects experiences they might not talk about.

Since 1992, Capitol Tattoo has been inking the bodies of returning soldiers in a storefront shop on Georgia Avenue in Silver Spring, Md., just north of Walter Reed Army Medical Center, the massive Army hospital that is in the process of closing. “They are our family,” says owner Al Herman, of the soldiers who come in for artwork, or just to hang out.

On one day this summer, Herman opened his door to photographer Peter Hapak. The veteran clients rolled up their sleeves, stripped off their shirts, and revealed their scars, hoping that the resulting images would help bridge the chasm of understanding.

Mark Benjamin is an investigative reporter based in Washington, and a contributer to TIME, as well as’s military intelligence blog Battleland. You can follow him on Twitter at MarkMBenjamin

MORE: Read Mark Benjamin’s magazine story, “The Art of War,” from this week’s issue of TIME [available to subscribers here]. 

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Humans have been marking their skin permanently for thousands of years. A tattoo can be a remembrance, a constant prayer, a warning, or simply an amazing work of art. The reasons behind them can be intensely personal, decorative, whimsical, or utilitarian. They can signify tribal allegiance, personal history, or nothing at all. Collected below are recent images of skin art and a few glimpses into the owners of these tattoos and their reasons for modifying their own bodies. [36 photos]

Tattoo devotee Deryn Stephenson poses during The Tattoo Jam Festival on August 5, 2011 in Doncaster, England. The Tattoo Jam Festival is Britain's biggest gathering of tattoo professionals and skin art devotees. The event hosts over 300 artists working in the exhibition hall of Doncaster Racecourse revealing their latest designs and techniques. (Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)

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LIBERTY VIEW LIBERTY VIEW: Ryan Hoyt, a member of the U.S. Coast Guard, worked on the rig of the cutter Barque Eagle as it sat in New York Harbor Friday. (Shannon Stapleton/Reuters)

GLOW IN THE DARK GLOW IN THE DARK: The new ‘Slinky Springs to Fame’ bridge was illuminated Thursday night in the western German city of Oberhausen. (Roland Weihrauch/Agence France-Presse/Getty Images)

CHECKPOINT SILHOUETTES CHECKPOINT SILHOUETTES: Palestinian women waited to cross the Qalandia checkpoint Friday between the West Bank city of Ramallah and Jerusalem on their way to pray at the Al Aqsa Mosque on the first Friday of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. (Bernat Armangue/Associated Press)

MORNING LIGHT MORNING LIGHT: U.S. Spc. Joshua Schonert lit a cigarette Friday as he prepared for the day after dawn attacks by Taliban insurgents on their checkpoint in Kandahar, Afghanistan. (Romeo Gacad/Agence France-Presse/Getty Images)

A LOTUS TATTOO A LOTUS TATTOO: Tattoo fan Deryn Stephenson posed Friday at the Tattoo Jam Festival in Doncaster, England. The festival is Britain’s biggest gathering of tattoo professionals and tattoo lovers. (Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)

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