Team Laeth
Why Homeless People and Tattoos?

Why Homeless people and tattoos?

By David Mullins (Laeth's dad)

Laeth and I first got involved serving meals together to homeless men at the Memphis Union Mission with his church youth group when Laeth was in middle school. We volunteered occasionally throughout his middle school and high school years. When Laeth returned from the Marines we continued volunteering with the youth group occasionally.

Laeth always had a special heart for underdogs and those in need. Being a Marine exemplified that characteristic. Serving meals to homeless people was very special for us because homeless people are definitely underdogs. Continuing to serve a meal to those in need in Laeth’s memory and in his name seems like a natural way to keep Laeth’s spirit of service to those in need alive even after Laeth is gone. I find great comfort in what we do and those we do it for. I have often been told there are people in our line that have a place to stay and can afford their own food. My response has always been the same. I am not willing to spend time, energy and volunteers checking people in our line to see if they are truly needy. If they are willing to spend 30-60 minutes in our line with homeless and needy people for one of our great meals they deserve to get one. Also, every week I see new faces in our line. Sometimes there are only a couple sometimes there are a few. I have always been willing to serve a meal to 98 people who can afford their own meal to get food to those few that truly would not eat that day without our free meal. Being an agency of the Mid-South Food Bank has given us the ability and the resources to keep that philosophy in tact.

As with many Marines, and other members of our military, Laeth had many tattoos. Laeth had Marine tattoos, a bible verse (1st Corinthians 15:10), a “meat tag” (a realistic tattoo on his side that looked like his side had been ripped open with a copy of his dog tag info in the middle of the tattoo, it was awesome), a humorous one, and one around his left wrist that said “Remember the fallen, cherish the living”. At the time of Laeth’s death I was 52. I didn’t have any tattoos and I didn’t understand those who had them. After Laeth died the tattoo around his wrist seemed cool and appropriate. After he died Laeth’s younger sister Andrea, his good friend Devon, and I all got that tattoo around our left wrist. It reminds me to appreciate those still with us and not to let ‘the fallen’ zap my time and energy and cause me to miss out on times with those still with us.

When the first anniversary of Laeth’s death was approaching I knew it was going to be a bad day. Everything I read and everyone I talked to told me that day would be very difficult. I decided to get another tattoo on that day and get it at the time he died. That would give me a great distraction and satisfaction from doing something I knew would make him smile, seeing me get his name tattooed on my arm. That turned out to be the best thing I could have done to get through that day. Since that time I have gotten tattoos each year on the anniversary of his death. It’s never too late and you are never too old to make changes that can help get us through difficult situations.

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