S+ Stimulant: Bunk Bed Graffiti
Bunk Bed Graffiti was created in the 1960s by Vietnam-bound soldiers aboard Navy ships. The graffiti – which was marked on the underside of canvas bunks – included drawings, peace symbols, quotes, or musings; sometimes done just to pass the time or sometimes as a message to the next batch of soldiers traveling aboard.
One piece of graffiti quoted Shakespeare’s sonnet no. 29 (For thy sweet love remember’d such wealth brings / That then I scorn to change my state with kings) while another was a heartfelt dedication to the soldier’s wife.
Soldiers who remember lying in their bunks reading the graffiti say it was comforting and held back the prevalent sense of loneliness and fear. Others say that creating the graffiti was therapeutic, almost like keeping a diary.
Bunk bed graffiti became a kind of tradition where soldiers would either mark their creative impulses or share their favourite sources of inspiration, knowing that it would ease the anxieties of their fellow compatriots whilst also allowing them the chance to express themselves during long nights at sea.
S+ Suggested reading/ viewing: The Vietnam Graffiti Project
Published: September 23rd, 2014