THREW Mikes EyEz

Original Writings, Images, Video and Artworks of Mike Hartley


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Honoring Service

I support Wreaths Across America. They will be laying wreaths at Arlington Cemetery next Saturday Dec 15th at 8am. This holiday season and Memorial Day weekend, these grounds seem to look so special and to me the most beautiful besides the fall when the trees provide color to the vast rolling hills. But they are very different. Memorial Day invokes a great sense of pride and almost a smile. Christmas evokes the loss of family, very special memories and tears.

A week from today.
Photo by Mike Hartley

Maybe one of these years I’ll get down and help with the laying of the wreaths. I thank the many who volunteer on these cold December days.


More Random Thoughts of the Day

Working my hardest, on relaxing.

I think my cell phone is more charged than I.

My children are teaching me. Of course they have been since birth. I’m just so glad I’m open to learning from them.

I’m already anticipating Sunday breakfast. Think I’ll have a glass of OJ before bed to quell the cravings.


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Veterans Day Respect

I am very grateful and thankful for the freedom you veterans and active duty service members provide me and my family. I wish more were appreciative of the service you provide. I’m very disappointed at the same people so willing to send you in harm’s way and then not help you in your time of need. Days like today remind me to share, donate, support and respect this day and all veterans throughout the year.

Photo by Mike Hartley

I spent a lot of time at Bethesda Naval Hospital when I was young. It was the last station for my father when he was active duty I believe. Also as a dependent it was our medical facility. I remember vividly the years as a young boy and teenager going there and seeing war injuries of kids from Vietnam. Mainly loss of limbs and other disfiguring injuries. I remember trying to make eye contact and giving a smile to them as we would pass. I didn’t want them to feel different.

I remember my mother saying to me as we saw these men rehabilitating or waiting or recovering from multiple surgeries. She would say to me to never forget, that there is someone always far worse off than you. Be thankful of your health. Be thankful for your father and those who fight for us.

Moms are Moms for a reason. They know whats right.

So my salute and respects on this Veterans Day.


Random Thoughts of the Day

It’s not that I didn’t have any random thoughts yesterday, I just thought I’d have time for a second post and thought wrong.

I got a great idea for Xmas, wonder if I can pull it off.

Feels good to be alive this fine Sunday morning. Of course that could be the meds talking.

Either this is going to be a day of rest or a day of chores. And the battle begins.


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Sunday morning visit

I saw the morning mist burn off just after sunrise. I saw the bluest sky in a while. I saw many brave men and women. I saw kids learning history. I saw the beauty of fall. I saw families crying. I saw my parents. I saw the changing of the guard. I saw the trumpet come out to play taps and my eyes filled with water.

A few minutes with family this morning.
Photo by Mike Hartley

Taps Man
Photo by Mike Hartley

Old Guard
Photo by Mike Hartley

I think the colors here come from below and above.
Photo by Mike Hartley

Guns, in the hands of the right people.
Photo by Mike Hartley

Each season here is unique.
Photo by Mike Hartley

Brass on the hill.
Photo by Mike Hartley

A class leaving the Tomb of the Unknown Solider.
Photo by Mike Hartley

Cemetery Beauty
Photo by Mike Hartley

Battle of the Bulge Memorial.
Photo by Mike Hartley


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Morning with Mom and Dad

A brisk but beautiful morning. The sun was in and out of the clouds early. Which seemed to match the place I was in. One minute you had bright sun glistening off the headstones. The next a shadowy silence and the cloudy changing of the guard.

Many were paying respects.
Photo by Mike Hartley

The tour buses were mainly empty. But there were a lot of people here paying respects to loved ones and friends.

Morning Rounds to mainly empty buses.
Photo by Mike Hartley

I try to make a holiday visit every year.

Many sweeping views.
Photo by Mike Hartley

You know you can stand there and your ears hear silence or the rustling of leaves. But if you know someone here your mind is filled with voices.

Thanks to Wreaths Across America.
Photo by Mike Hartley

My Mom used to love wreaths.

Honor Guard
Photo by Mike Hartley

People were very respectful at the changing of the guard. It gals me when the Guard has to admonish someone for bad behavior.

Every once in a while the sun breaks through.
Photo by Mike Hartley

Merry Christmas Mom and Dad. As the family gathers tomorrow, look through my eyes to see the joy you have left behind. Thank you so much for all you gave me. I miss you.

Always make your parents proud.
Photo by Mike Hartley

Merry Christmas everyone.


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Don’t let the memories fade

When you are remembered fondly, memories are not forgotten. And to all those that work holiday’s. A salute from a fellow worker. And if you can squeeze in a few minutes of grill time like I hope to, then remember how lucky we all are on this Memorial Day. And if you see someone who doesn’t know or has forgotten, gently remind them.

Fading
Photo by MIke Hartley


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A morning ride

Thought’s today. Missed hugs and laughter. Missed lessons and tips. Missed wisdom and love. Jeez I miss my parents. So I went for a visit. I thought I’d beat the road closures for Rolling Thunder but NOO. That’s OK, I got in fine, a few minutes after they opened at 8am. Paid my respects to Mom and Dad and then visited another friends parents. The ride home was about double the length as normal. That’s OK, wouldn’t have missed the anniversary of Mom passing for the world.

101st Airborne Memorial outside Arlington’s gates.
Photo by Mike Hartley

Rows and rows of voices lost. So at your cookouts today and tomorrow remember those no longer with us please.

Memorial Weekend
Photo by Mike Hartley

Will be back soon for another visit Mom and Dad.

Happy Memorial Day Dad
Photo by Mike Hartley

Miss you Mom
Photo by Mike Hartley


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Wreaths Across America

I will continue to thank this organization (Wreaths Across America) and now support them with a donation in their 2017 efforts. I appreciate the work they do at many military cemeteries across the country and here at Arlington. Some of their handy work below at the USS Serpens Monument.

The USS Serpen Monument at Arlington Cemetery. Photo by Mike Hartley

The USS Serpens Monument at Arlington Cemetery.
Photo by Mike Hartley

And on the many graves on the rolling hills of Arlington.

Wreaths at Arlington. Photo by Mike Hartley

Wreaths at Arlington.
Photo by Mike Hartley

Sorry about the somber start to a Monday. I just didn’t want to forget a mention of this organization and do my part to see it continue. Like I said I’m on a mission to do more for others this coming year.


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Nice Neighbor

The headstone of James A Graham who is buried next to my Mom and Dad at Arlington. I’m honored to have such company for my parents. I hope today helps us look back and realize the sacrifice many have made. I hope it helps us look forward and guides the actions of our leaders, not waste one life.

Parents Neighbor Photo by Mike Hartley

Parents Neighbor
Photo by Mike Hartley

You can’t say it enough today. Hats off and much appreciation to those who and have served.


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Saturday Morning walk

Visited Arlington National Cemetery this morning. Well actually visited with my Mom and Dad but walked down to the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier after I finished running my mouth. Saw a number of old Veterans there, most in wheelchairs. I think about my Dad when I see them. The wreath was being put out for the day by what appeared to be the Knights of Columbus.

Tomb Guard sentinel. Photo by Mike Hartley

Tomb Guard sentinel.
Photo by Mike Hartley

I was a nice ceremony and taps was played after the presentation of the wreath.

Tomb Guards Photo by Mike Hartley

Tomb Guards
Photo by Mike Hartley

I never tire of going to this spot at the Cemetery.

Wreath laying. Photo by Mike Hartley

Wreath laying.
Photo by Mike Hartley

Taps being played. I never can keep my composure during that. Brings back to many memories. That is why I usually don’t go on Saturdays to avoid seeing any services for fallen.

Taps Photo by Mike Hartley

Taps
Photo by Mike Hartley

Here’s to the 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard), headquartered at Fort Myer, Va.

3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard), headquartered at Fort Myer, Va. Photo by Mike Hartley

3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard), headquartered at Fort Myer, Va.
Photo by Mike Hartley

Precision.

I'm always amazed at the precision of the Guard. Photo by Mike Hartley

I’m always amazed at the precision of the Guard.
Photo by Mike Hartley

Cut clean.

Uniform. Photo by Mike Hartley

Uniform.
Photo by Mike Hartley

At least there was a respectful crowd this morning. I’ve seen some behavior there that karma will certainly visit those individuals for payback.

So if your down today, remember, many have given much so that we can live in peace. Enjoy the day. Photo by Mike Hartley

So if your down today, remember, many have given much so that we can live in peace. Enjoy the day.
Photo by Mike Hartley

It is important for our generations and those after us to realized the importance of the sacrifice of the previous generations and show the respect and think about those things in our future actions.

Escorting one of our Veterans down the stairs. Photo by Mike Hartley

Escorting one of our Veterans down the stairs.
Photo by Mike Hartley

May everyone have a wonderful day.


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ANC

Just a few more shots from last weeks visit to Arlington National Cemetery. If you’re ever in Washington DC you should put this on your places to visit. And here is hoping that we can stop putting young men in the ground in our future. I think that some of our politicians need to be reminded of the phrase “speak softly and carry a big stick.”

Arlington National Cemetery. Photo by Mike Hartley

Arlington National Cemetery.
Photo by Mike Hartley

Arlington National Cemetery.  Photo by Mike Hartley

Arlington National Cemetery.
Photo by Mike Hartley

ANC Photo by Mike Hartley

ANC
Photo by Mike Hartley

Time at ANC Photo by Mike Hartley

Time at ANC
Photo by Mike Hartley

I wonder if there are stones that are encased in trees?  Photo by Mike Hartley

I wonder if there are stones that are encased in trees?
Photo by Mike Hartley

I was thinking about what I said in my initial post about not showing grieving families. And while this shot below is rather generic, it does show people at a grave site. If I’m brave enough on my next visit I’m going to try to meet someone mourning a friend or family member and see if I can get them to start telling me about them and if I could photograph them with a smile.

Remembering at ANC Photo by Mike Hartley

Remembering at ANC
Photo by Mike Hartley


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Awash in Flags

James Tanner Amphitheater. Photo by Mike Hartley

James Tanner Amphitheater.
Photo by Mike Hartley

I went to see my Mom and Dad this morning. It’s the 5th anniversary of Mom passing. She would love the view on Memorial Day weekend. The place (Arlington) is awash with Flags. Hats off to the servicemen who planted a flag at each site. I went myself today because we needed to talk again.

Flags for the fallen on Memorial Day weekend at Arlington. Photo by Mike Hartley

Flags for the fallen on Memorial Day weekend at Arlington.
Photo by Mike Hartley

Each time I go myself we have a heart to heart. I thanked her for the letter I found about my Dad. I talked to them about the upcoming wedding of our Son. That our Daughter had just gotten a new home. And thanks for the good word on my behalf giving me a chance at health again.

That I found her newspaper clipping of her Mothers wedding. Another keepsake for the family. That I was searching carefully through things not to miss anything. Here it is 5 years later and I’m still sorting things out. Mom was a pack rat and I’m thankful for that because some have been wonderful treasures.

Wonderful to see our two and three wheel friends in town paying respects. Photo by Mike Hartley

Wonderful to see our two and three wheel friends in town paying respects.
Photo by Mike Hartley

It was a beautiful morning. I went early and got there just after opening. I figured being it was the best weather day coming up that it might be crowded and it was. After we visited for a while I went for a short drive. I always try to go to a part of the cemetery I haven’t been to before.

Wonderful to see our two and three wheel friends in town paying respects. Photo by Mike Hartley

Wonderful to see our two and three wheel friends in town paying respects.
Photo by Mike Hartley

Today I went down Bradley and Arnold Drives. This must be where active servicemen are coming home to. Very young families and parents visiting. When I visit here I have thoughts that anyone in power in government should have had or has someone who has served in conflict before they can decide to send others into harms way.

US Air Force Memorial stretching over Arlington. Photo by Mike Hartley

US Air Force Memorial stretching over Arlington.
Photo by Mike Hartley

I remember these nasty thunderstorms the night she passed.

Always in our hearts. Photo by Mike Hartley

Always in our hearts.
Photo by Mike Hartley

I wish people could practice the respect they have for each other at Arlington where ever they go. The world would be a better place. For instance I can’t photography grieving families. I think that is an invasion of privacy. I know I get uncomfortable when the trams of people are coming around when I’m at Mom and Dads grave. I tend to keep my back to them, not to be rude, but for my own privacy.

I love the trees that are maintained through the property. Photo by Mike Hartley

I love the trees that are maintained through the property.
Photo by Mike Hartley

Much respect to those suffering loss, to those that have served and their families. Remember what we are celebrating this holiday weekend. Tip your hat or raise your glass to those who no longer can do that.


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A visit overdue

This coming week its time to visit my parents grave site at Arlington. Been a little while and with Mothers day coming next weekend its a good time to go and bring some flowers to her and Dad’s home. I look at pictures of them often. I miss them dearly. I wonder if they are proud of me. I know they miss their grandchildren and they miss them. Life is different without parents to call.

Much respect to military families and those that serve.

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Memorial day greetings to Mom and Dad

Flags lined headstones at Arlington National Cemetery. Photo by Mike Hartley

Flags lined headstones at Arlington National Cemetery.
Photo by Mike Hartley

It’s easy to keep memories alive over time if there has been love and hardship. I miss my parents greatly but I visit them often. So happy Memorial Day to the both of you again. It’s a beautiful day out and your children and grandchildren are well so rest easy.

Dad Photo by Mike Hartley

Dad
Photo by Mike Hartley

Thoughts to all of you who have had or have service members in your family.

Mom Photo by Mike Hartley

Mom
Photo by Mike Hartley


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Arlington National Cemetery on sunny summer day

Just some images from one of my trips visiting my family. Photos by Mike Hartley


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Arlington National Cemetery – Home

Home is where your Parents are. That home is Arlington National Cemetery for my parents. And its always good to go home and see your parents.

My parents grave after the wonderful people from Wreaths Across America decorated for the holiday. Photo by Mike Hartley

Arlington is many things to many people. Here are a few thing that it makes me feel. It’s a place of beauty and respect. It’s a place of tears and memories. Sometimes a soft smile can be seen from those mourning, but mostly it’s deep stares, bowed heads and emotion. Mostly, it’s a lone person, but sometimes you see pieces of families. Ages are all over the place. From young children and wives of soldiers recently deceased, to children who are now seniors themselves whose parents from previous wars are passing of advanced years.

Lone man walking back after graveside visit. Photo by Mike Hartley

Lone man walking back after graveside visit.
Photo by Mike Hartley

Sometimes I go for walks after visiting my parents. Sometimes I just sit and relax with them for a while longer and skip the walk. Somehow touching the headstone or in a private moment giving it a hug feels good. Looking around at the trees and birds that my Mom and Dad used to love watching makes our connection still relevant.

Backdrop Photo by Mike Hartley

Backdrop
Photo by Mike Hartley

I think about how nice they keep the grounds there and how my parents loved to have their yards and gardens looking good. I hear a peace about the silence with the exception of the occasional plane leaving National Airport. Sorry Reagan airport. But it reminds me to look up at the sky on a nice day.

Someone remembered Photo by Mike Hartley

Someone remembered
Photo by Mike Hartley

The winter and holidays are rough. The cold, the trees bare of leaves, the dormant grass and the grey skies signal loneliness. They invoke memories that take you back to warmer times but the wind kicks up and the chill reminds you your alone. Only at a fresh snow or the weeks after the Wreaths Across America organization lays wreaths at each grave does the place feel OK to me during this season. But it’s just not conducive to the longer visits of the other seasons. But I always try to get down around Christmas or New Years to pay my respects.

Photo by Mike Hartley

Photo by Mike Hartley

Spring is like a rebirth. It’s easier to spend more time visiting and talking graveside, without the cold and wet draining your depleted strength. I remember spring being my Moms favorite season. I think it was because she was always giving new life to plants in her garden. And boy did she love the animals coming out also. It’s funny now that I think about it. I think I get as excited about seeing wildlife as she used to. And to take things into summer is the Memorial Day Celebration which is a wonderful to see all those flags.

Photo by Mike Hartley

Photo by Mike Hartley

The summer brings an additional warmth to the place. Its grasses are an unending carpet that grows. The birds flock to this paradise. Its headstones glimmer in the sunlight brighter than any other time. It’s also tourist season. I’m kind of intimidated by those trams full of people riding around looking at the grounds when I’m at my parents graveside. I tend to just turn and keep my back to it. I hope they don’t think it rude but going there is a private time for me. A majority of visits I do alone. It’s not that my wife doesn’t offer to come along. I just like talking to my parents alone most of the time now.

Photo by Mike Hartley

Photo by Mike Hartley

The fall season is of course the most colorful and with Veteran’s Day celebrations, it’s a special time of year. Tourist aren’t as prevalent and its relaxed visits before the next season with the holiday emotions. It’s the time I bring Mom some colorful flowers for her birthday. I used to love buying her flowers the last few years of her life. I’d try to keep fresh ones for her pretty much most of the time. To see her face light up and wanting to smell them each before I put them in water. So I know I’m still making her smile someplace, if not just in my own heart.

Tram loading Photo by Mike Hartley

Tram loading
Photo by Mike Hartley

Working in DC allows me to visit my parent home fairly often. I made a visit on the 27th of Dec. and thanked them again for all they have given me. Life at holiday time without them certainly is different though.

Please visit Wreaths Across America if you can and make a donation if you choose.


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JFK Eternal Flame at Arlington National Cemetery

Occasionally, I shoot around Arlington National Cemetery a bit after my visits. Sometimes wandering down to the JFK grave site to watch people. You can see emotion, thought, reflection and memories for some. I don’t intrude on their personal visits with the camera. I focus on the flame most of the time. But as I was walking away frustrated by the crowds this past summer day to get any decent shots of the flame area. I turned and there was what looked to be a family of 4 standing at front. I was only able to grab this one shot before they turned quickly for the tram. It remains one of my simple favorites of the cemetery.

Family at JFK gravesite. Photo by Mike Hartley

Family at JFK gravesite.
Photo by Mike Hartley


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Our Parents – Their Service to our Country

Recently I was honored to attend the Funeral/Burial of one of my best friends, wife’s father. He was buried at Arlington National Cemetery with full military honors. Arlington is one of just a few that provide graveside full military honors and it is a special thing to witness.  It was one of the most beautiful days one could ask for. And being he was a former pilot (Tuskegee Airman) I’m sure he would have loved this day. Clear skies, slight breeze, fall colors starting on the trees. But most of all a daughter and her family, to be very proud of.

The service and ceremony were outstanding. The Military sometimes does get it right in taking care of their own and this was certainly the case here. It was a wonderful thing to be part of and gut wrenching at the same time on a very personal level. My father was buried there when I was 9 years old, just a short distance from the site we were standing on. That was a day in my life that left a very deep mark on my memory.

While I visit my Father and also my Mothers grave there now I always go on Sundays or holidays for the privacy and thinking of good things. You see we have conversations. I tell them what their grand children are up to. I apologize for the things they would be disappointed in me in. I share good news of accomplishments.I tell them what my wife and I are up to. I enjoy taking them flowers because both of them loved a good garden. I ask them how their neighbors are doing. I tell them how much I miss them. I try to think that they are proud of some of my life so far and to live in a way that they would approve of.

But I go on Sundays for the expressed purpose of not having to deal with the gut wrenching sounds and symbols that come with a burial. Those cause me great grief and hurt my heart and sole. The sight of a flag being folded and laid in loved ones hands. The words from the military Chaplin. The sound of the 21 gun salute. The image of the horse drawn caisson with casket draped in the flag. The music from the military band and of course the hardest thing, hearing Taps played by a bugler in the distance. I can’t describe how those things feel, they bring me to tears because of my memories. I’ll think of those images yesterday for weeks to come. But not from yesterday but from 48 years ago.

After the service, my wife and I went over to my parents grave. It wan’t the usual experience I had come to feel comfortable with on Sundays. But it was good none the less. On the way home we had to pick up my wife’s mother who was with her father at the local hospital. Interestingly enough on the way up to his room we passed the room my Mother was in right before she passed just a few years ago. It was kind of strange that those things happened on the same day.

But the real reason for writing this little tidbit is to Honor those families who have made great sacrifices over many years and decades or paid the ultimate price for service. For this is the point the Chaplin yesterday made that resonated with me. For me, the generation that fought WW-ll and Korea, this was a tough group who was also raised during the depression. This was a group that knew the importance of LIFE. And focusing on the right things. They knew about what was the small stuff in life. They experienced great hardship. Not to say that subsequent veterans have made any less contribution at all. But that is the era of service people I know. An uncle who flew missions in a B-17 over Europe. Another uncle was was on the West Virginia at Pearl Harbor and heavy cruisers in the Pacific. My father who was on a Destroyer in WW-ll and served in Korea also.

I thank every service man and woman and also their families because it is a sacrifice for all. And for some its the ultimate sacrifice. And far too many people in this country don’t appreciate it.

Burial detail at Arlington National Cemetery.  Photo by Mike Hartley

Burial detail at Arlington National Cemetery for my friends father.
Photo by Mike Hartley

Band at ease before walk to burial ground. Photo by Mike Hartley

Band at ease before walk to burial ground.
Photo by Mike Hartley