A Permanent Remembrance Bears Painful Burden

By Jordann Stekervetz (video credit Blake Wales) –

The pain of losing someone is deafening.

A best friend killed in a car accident, the mother of a teenager dead before she sees her grandchildren, a child watching their parent die in a hospital bed, all situations that can shatter the lives of a teenager. In recent years, teens are increasingly finding ways to cope with this shock and pain through permanent means- a tattoo.

The population of US citizens who have a tattoo has grown dramatically from 6 percent in 1936, to 36 percent  just a couple years ago. Researchers from Texas Tech found that 18 percent of teenagers in America are now tattooed, which is double the amount statistics found in the 1990s. Also, in 1997, the tattooing business was said to be the sixth fastest growing retail business in the United States.


All music used in the video is original and composed by Penn Manor students.


For many years, a tattoo was a sign of rebellion for teens. Nowadays, a tatted teen is considered the norm. A new trending design, a tattoo in memory of a loved one who has passed, is finding its place in American culture.

Students from Penn Manor have adopted this wildly popular trend to remember family and friends who have died or with whom they had a personal connection.

Memorial tattoos don’t come in one certain shape or size. Birth and death dates, a depiction of something the person enjoyed, the deceased’s zodiac symbol or even a portrait can all be seen covering a portion of teens’ skin.

“My tattoo is of a tiger,” Lisa Mayo, an English teacher here at Penn Manor explained, “it represents passion that should never be caged.”

“When I graduated from high school, I was forbidden to go the college,” explained Mayo, ” I am now everything my father hated [which the tiger symbolizes]; a left wing liberal and college educated women, influencing the youth of America. I hope that he is spinning in his grave.”

A popular TV series, L.A Ink, has shown many of people getting pictures of loved ones and getting objects that represent a hard time in their life tattooed on themselves.

A new and upcoming trend for memorial tattoos is mixing cremated ashes with the tattoo ink. People are starting to get the ashes put into the tattoo to feel some type of closure, by not only having a tattoo in memory of loved one, but having a piece of them in you forever.

*Credit to the young speakers who shared their memorial tattoos with us. Thank you Hayden Gonzalez, Sarah Nagy, Jeff Ford, Genny Leonards, Kendal Phillips, Amanda Ackerman and Shannon McCoy.

This story came to mind not only because of this type of tattooing becoming popular, but because just like the people interviewed, my tattoo is for a loved one who passed away. When I was 9 years old, my dad was put on a list for a liver transplant. From before I was born, my father had a liver disease called Primary Sclerosing Cholangitis, which is the swelling, scarring or destruction of the bile duct. He lived his life how he wanted to, not letting his disease slow him down or ruin his life. PSC is not usually fatal, but in my dad’s case, it was. In late 2001, the disease worsened, leaving my dad very, very sick.. He was in the Lancaster General Hospital while his condition got critical. The doctors then moved him up to Philadelphia, where he waited for a liver transplant. When we visited he seemed to be getting better, up until December 16, 2001, when the disease took over his weakened body. He was very sick, throwing up blood to the point where the doctors had to do a blood transfusion. He died that night. Eight years later i decided to get a tattoo in memory of him. I chose to get “I love you” in his handwriting from a card given to me when I was younger. Now I will always have him with me. Forever&Always -Jordann Stekervetz


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