THREW Mikes EyEz

Original Writings, Images, Video and Artworks of Mike Hartley

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Just beautiful

Days like this with ultra blue skies and low to mid-70s for the temps with a mild breeze are just wonderful. We were able to use the deck with the company today and hopefully tomorrow also. We had a great lunch at EC Diner together. A meeting of the family (adults) once every 3 months minimum to catch up and stay on the same page.

Let us remember what the Weekend is About. Just take a few minutes and pause each day to give thanks to so many for our freedom.

Never forget their sacrifice. This gentleman walked by as I was visiting. Photo by Mike Hartley

Military cemeteries might be the one place in this country where everyone shows respect for everyone else.

A place I sometimes cry and smile at the same time. Photo by Mike Hartley

Even though Arlington is difficult for many to visit it is one of the most beautiful places.

I love walking down and watching the changing of the guard. It’s a short walk from my parent’s grave. Photo by Mike Hartley

When visiting Arlington I try not to shoot anyone who is visiting loved ones or friends from the front.

In my personal opinion, the Supreme Court blew it again with its decision with regard to the EPA and Clean Water Act this past Thursday.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • I try to remind myself to think like a youngster when trying to create. It should be no problem, my better half says I’m still a teenager.
  • It’s ok to say thank you to your parents even after their passing.
  • It bothers me when my car is dirty.
  • The thought of back to work tomorrow is not an appealing one.

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Isn’t it beautiful!

I wrote that title without defining or even thinking about what “it” was before starting this post titled “Isn’t it beautiful.” Looking for beauty makes me look in a positive direction. Plus I like finding many “its” throughout the day. For instance, it was a beautiful morning. After an hour or two of trimming and weed-whacking the yard is beautiful again.

My better half was beautiful this day. The sky was beautiful before the clouds came. The lone dandelion weed in my front yard was beautiful, mainly for the reason there weren’t hundreds of them like next door.

They say beauty is in the eye of the beholder. I might look at a car and see beauty. My better half sees a car. Some may consider the rolling sand hills in a desert beautiful and others see desolation. Some may look at a stone and just see a big rock. Others see beauty.

Beautiful headstone at Arlington National Cemetery. Photo by Mike Hartley

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • The sound of the workweek starting up again is not beautiful.
  • The dead battery in my locked car is not beautiful.
  • The mess surrounding me in my office is not beautiful.
  • Having my health today though was beautiful.
  • Having family and friends this weekend was beautiful.
  • Having some good cancer test results this week would be beautiful.

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Good visit

Arlington National Cemetery is a beautiful place but this weekend when they do the “Flags In” it’s something special. I was feeling rather guilty being it had been a bit since I had visited my parents. I think about 10 months but it could be a year, usually, I do 2-3 trips a year.

I like walking around a little each trip and meeting their neighbors. I like looking at freshly laid flowers. Finding a grave with personal items left is not real common in the older sections but occasionally you stumble on something special.

A beautiful morning. A good visit. Photo by Mike Hartley

Sometimes visits are very difficult. Sometimes kind of uplifting. Today was a bit of both. I’m still asking favors of them. Like to look out for their grandchildren and now great-grandchildren. And of course, advice which I always need from them. But I also was very proud to tell them that their grandchildren remember them on their anniversaries and milestones. Always, every year without fail.

Wreath laying at Tomb of the Unknown. Photo by Mike Hartley

It was such a beautiful day and even though I got there a few minutes after opening the crowds were building quickly. I imagine beating the heat because that is a big place to walk or even using the tram.

Photo by Mike Hartley

I usually always go on Sunday mornings. There are no burials on Sundays so I don’t have the occasion to hear TAPS. Well, they did it during a wreath-laying this morning and it felt like I was hearing it again for the first time when I was 9. I can’t hear those notes and not cry. Wish I could be stronger but that is something that was very painful a long time ago and is still to this day.

Photo by Mike Hartley.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • I feel like eating well this week.
  • Almost time to turn the calendar again. The older you get the scarier it gets.
  • I will repeat, working holiday weekends sucks.
  • Some drivers are out of control. Then again I guess they are out of control when they aren’t behind the wheel also.
  • The chance of running into a lot more good people than bad is very high. It’s just that the bad ones really stick out and make it seem there may be more bad than good.

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100 Yesterday

Arlington National Cemetery held commemorative events marking the 100th Anniversary of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier yesterday. And a beautiful day it was for such an event. The Tomb is a spot I visit often. My parents are buried in an adjoining section, which is very near this. I always walk down and watch the changing of the guard after I visit with them.

Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. Photo by Mike Hartley

Sometimes I’ll walk through the empty Memorial Ampletheater, sometimes around the outside of it. I try to stand in a different spot each time as I watch the changing of the guard. I marvel at the precision and details of the Old Guard.

Tomb Guard. Photo by Mike Hartley

Most people come as visitors, but those who come for personal connections it’s part of our home. It’s a place of many and all emotions. Some very raw. Some that are just as painful as the day they became reality. Sometimes you see a smile. Sometimes you see people looking skyward. Sometimes just a bowed head. Many take a knee and embrace a headstone.

Looking for family. Photo by Mike Hartley

Sometimes I shed a few tears even before I pull in the main gate. Thankfully I’ve been able to pull it together by the time of the security checks. But then the drive up to their row sometimes triggers emotions. I usually feel good as I exit the car and begin the walk down their row. When I get to their grave sometimes it’s very good. Like this summer visit when I just sat and told them stories about the children and what we were up to. Just like a summer visit sitting outside chatting and I left with a smile and good feeling. Other times I miss them so bad I have trouble standing there and am just silent, wiping tears the whole visit.

Sometimes I think those different feelings are due to the different times of the year. Of course, I miss them more during the holiday times. Especially Xmas and Thanksgiving times. And summers for us were always more upbeat.

So I’ll end here and get back to work on the project of gathering some of the shots I’ve taken there on the wall for my friends and family to sort through for what is the best work. To me, it’s just pointed out a few things I think I need to go back and work on or shoot again, and other things I need to shoot for the first time.

Random Thoughts of the Day this morning

  • I long for the day I don’t wake in pain. But I also will think more about those that are fighting much more difficult battles.
  • Today I have many opportunities to make progress. Will I choose to do so is the question?
  • I forgot to add yesterday my appreciation for all that serve and have served this wonderful country. I hope you know the appreciation is there every day of the year, not just Veterans Day.
  • I’ve got to work on enlarging my palette of color.
  • It feels like reading season. It’s #39 in my book of things to do instead of going outside in the cold.

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The morning shoot

Took a short walk around the section near my parent’s grave this morning and grabbed a few shots of a beautiful place. I had my normal chat with them updating all the family status and goings-on, as well as my love for them, and hope they keep an eye on the family.

I love September visits. Things are green still but you can feel the change starting. I’m sure on my next visit I won’t have shorts on and a jacket or coat will be required.

One change to the normal visit was that the Memorial Bridge was closed so I had to take a strange route home. And they directed me on 395 which took me past the Pentagon around 10 am. Just thinking back, I also heard something strange for a Sunday. I heard Taps being played. I didn’t think they did interments on Sundays?

Arlington National Cemetery 9/12/21. Photos by Mike Hartley

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • I’m going to have to make up for this lazy afternoon tomorrow afternoon.
  • Keeping the momentum going, is always the hard part.
  • Learning to keep that positive creative spirit while chaos swirls around you is difficult but not impossible.
  • It can’t be Monday again.

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Memorial Day greetings

Finally a beautiful day on Memorial Day weekend. Too bad I had to sleep through over half of it and work parts of both ends of the day. I did make good use of the few free hours though and it was a wonderful time. Lots of friend’s birthdays, anniversaries, and occasions to celebrate this coming June. The month of May certainly flew by. Here in the northeast, it was a cool May which seemed unusual.

I’m thinking about the balance of this weekend. Far too many forget the sacrifices made too easily and only think of the celebrations, cookouts and time off. We ask very few to really fight for this country. But it wasn’t always that way. Early wars mobilized the whole country. Even those at home sacrificed working for the war efforts.

Burial detail at Arlington National Cemetery. Photo by Mike Hartley

I feel that the generations behind me are losing the history of my elders. Very few WW2 Vets are still alive. I saw a stat from March 5th, 2021 that said 300,000 were alive, less than 2%. Those actions, that service, that knowledge is soon to be gone.

I was telling someone how I never got that wisdom from my father. We didn’t have a chance with him passing when I was still young. I did get one message from my Mom about it and that was “war does horrible things to people.” And as I made more and more visits to Bethesda Naval Hospital over the years when I was young and then for her in her later years I’ve seen some of the results. From the ’60s when people maimed returned from Vietnam to the Gulf wars.

So today I consider myself a very lucky man to have been blessed with so many that preceded me who fought for Democracy. Thank you all again for your service. And also to those who serve today of course.

I’m going to be on a mission to capture some memories of a particular time in history at a place I was at soon. Before those people are gone along with the memories of some special times.

But tomorrow I hope to be out and about in the county recording some moments in time to share.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • It’s always fun doing something you thought you might not able to do until that next thing that you thought you could do isn’t working now.
  • Mowing the grass on a Friday prevents having to do it on a holiday Monday. Especially when it rains all weekend.
  • Getting older is about acceptance. Yeah, you can fight against it for a while but time wins.
  • Love can get you through many things.
  • I’m very comfortable with Biden visiting Arlington. I was very uncomfortable with Trump on those grounds.

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Sunday thoughts and actions

It’s time to change up my routine. I’m not getting enough shooting in and unless I make an effort to change that I’m going to continue to be frustrated. Part of it is very easy. I have to take advantage of all the opportunities I already have. Commonly overlooked opportunities.

I’ve got to get out and walk the space. Observe the space and record the space. And when I’m not out and about create inside each day. I need to increase my study in the crafts I’m using. I need to open my eyes to so much around me every minute. That is one of the things I enjoy about photography, it helps me open my eyes and look for things I wouldn’t normally see. And it’s a blessing to have that desire and excitement to look.

Today I headed out to something long overdue. I usually get to visit my parents resting place a few times a year. But this past year I think I’ve only been once and that may be close to a year now. I know tomorrow would be the better weather day to go but I worry after working all night tonight that I might not have the energy to make the journey. Plus most of the ceremonial events are tomorrow and security and crowds await.

I’ve always liked going first thing in the morning on Sundays. The trams don’t start till an hour after opening. Fortunately, their grave is in the middle of the section so I don’t get many people by. Today this gentleman from N.C. strolled by and was looking for the Space Shuttle marker. I told him where I thought it was and exchanged greetings. Arlington National Cemetery is a beautiful place and a painful one.

Ocean Life Guards – One of my Nephews was an Ocean City Lifeguard for a few years. I see they took to their chairs yesterday morning to kick off the season. Please don’t make their jobs more difficult than it already is. Use common sense. Don’t go in the water drunk. Know your abilities in the water. Heed the warnings posted. Don’t be doing stupid stuff like fighting diverting the attention of the guards away from someone who may be in trouble in the water.

Guard tower at Inlet. Photo by Mike Hartley

Lets have a safe summer. One where we get along better than recent examples have shown.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Sunday mornings are the quietest of the week.
  • We seem to be entering this nasty pattern where it rains on my days off.
  • Even though sleeping well is the exception instead of the rule, it’s still nice to appreciate those few evenings.
  • Instead of the job sucking the energy out of me this week, I think I’ll turn the tables. Well, one can dream, can’t he?
  • If there is one constant in life it is that – “The rich get richer.”

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Holiday weekend

Beautiful headstone at Arlington National Cemetery.
Photo by Mike Hartley

A start to the Memorial Day weekend is upon us. Mine has started already but it’s still just like any other weekend in some regards. I’ll have to work part of it (Sunday) but I do have the holiday Monday off for a change of pace so it’s not a total washout.

Tomb Guard
Photo by Mike Hartley

Speaking of washouts today is WET. And forecast for continued WET. That is OK though, I’m happy inside today after working out in the yard yesterday. I’m finishing up a small project for my neighbor who has a nice garden out front that attracts a ton of butterflies on the flowers and bees for the sunflowers. So I’m making them some nice prints of images I’ve taken over some years.

Seemed like a fitting shot for today’s events. Photo by Mike Hartley

I’m using some photos here today to honor Memorial Day for those who died in the active military service of their country. So remember to pause for a minute on Monday at 3 pm to honor those who made the ultimate sacrifice to protect the freedom we live under. Maybe add a prayer for their families.

Young and old are touched by this.
Photo by Mike Hartley

So this weekend is also the unofficial start of the summer. My favorite season is on the cusp of beginning. It’s certainly going to be a different summer and I’m going to have to learn to adapt to appreciate it fully.

First I’m going to make music a big part of it. Every opportunity I get I’m going to have some tunes going. Working outside, cruising, working at the computer. Music keeps my spirits positive.

I’ve got the summer wardrobe today already. Flip flops and shorts. Its a bit chilly though so I put on a tee-shirt.

Flip and Flop Photo by Mike Hartley

I think I’ll practice my hippie throwback look and just let the hair continue to grow. I’m in no rush to hit the barber.

Next is the commitment to get my behind back outside and take some new photographs.

So here’s to a great summer ahead.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • The best time of day is each minute you are enjoying it.
  • Time to purge a few things in this office.
  • I saw an article with the headline “How Covid-19 could change the way we fly.” Well I don’t even have to read the article because I won’t be flying for a few years at least.
  • How do you know bad advice, consider the source carefully?
  • I’m fine without a haircut and I don’t need to go to church to pray.

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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.


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


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.

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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Pillars of Strength

I’m feeling strong this day in a few ways. I’m in a creative mood again, I have my health and I have some free time. What a great combination. I’m glad I can look forward in a positive way. I slip so easily into a negative mindset at times. But today isn’t one of those.

Beauty and strength Photo by Mike Hartley

Beauty and strength
Photo by Mike Hartley

  • randomthoughtsI need to do something to help as many as I can each day. But I’ll settle for helping one person a day if needed.
  • Fall is nice with a convertible except for the leaves falling in it.
  • Exercise makes one feel good. Took a nice walk today with no pain.
  • I used to enjoy the relative quiet and peaceful drives in the county. But the only time you can have those now is at 4am.
  • Mother Nature is reminding some people, who is still in charge.
  • I wonder who really is in charge of AI (artificial intelligence)?
  • Drone patrol for our highways? What do you think? Just a thought.

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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

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


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

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.



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

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

Photo by Mike Hartley

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

Mom Photo by Mike Hartley

Photo by Mike Hartley


Arlington National Cemetery on sunny summer day

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


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

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

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Arlington National Cemetery

I always love to go Arlington National Cemetery on Sunday mornings. Mainly because traffic is such an issue most other days and its not as crowded first thing that morning. I try to make several visits a year to see my parents. This morning there was a coolness in the air, despite the early morning September sun. I had gotten some fall colored flowers for my Mom for her birthday.


Photo by Mike Hartley

After my usual talk with my parents I decided to wander around for a bit. You know this is one place that I think people check their attitudes. Respect and dignity are first and foremost. Of course this is easy for those of us who visit loved ones. But with so many visitors each year and people of many countries and cultures I’m surprised I haven’t witnessed anything.



Photo by Mike Hartley

But as always there was nothing but total respect at the Tomb of the Unknown Solider. A large crowd as normal had gathered for the changing of the guard.


Photo by Mike Hartley

As the Relief Commander makes his way to the Plaza to announce the beginning of the Changing of the Guard its amazing to watch the reactions on both old and young. Both foreign and domestic, both men and women. Below the new Sentinel makes his way to the plaza.


Photo by Mike Hartley

After the Relief Commander inspection of the new Sentinel the change begins. And this is a ceremony of rigid precision.


Photo by Mike Hartley

A salute to the Tomb,


Photo by Mike Hartley

A quick turn to the crowd.


Photo by Mike Hartley

And the escort of the old Sentinel out.


Photo by Mike Hartley

Arlington is an endless valley of hills and headstones on the surface. Below are the hopes and dreams of many snuffed out too early. Above is great sorrow and remembrance. I’m working on a photo essay of this historic place. I like to think of it as my parents new neighborhood and that they are introducing me to all the new friends. And I’ll be glad to come back often and bring my family.


Photo by Mike Hartley

Here is a quick read on the Changing of the Guard

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Thank you Wreaths Across America

I go to Arlington National Cemetery periodically to visit my parents. I find it an awesome place that moves me in many ways. Of course the first way it moves me each visit is sadness. I miss my parents and the support they gave me. But as I talk with them I always find comfort and feel better for visiting. Again on my holiday visit this year there was a wreath at their headstone.

Hillside, Headstones and Wreaths

Hillside, Headstones and Wreaths
© Threw Mikes Eyez

The organization Wreaths Across America had been gracious enough to lay one there again. It makes a honored and hollowed place more beautiful for a few weeks a year than it already is.


Unknown but remembered
© Threw Mikes Eyez

I’ve been doing a couple of photographic projects over there during my visits that I’ll be showing later this year. But here are just a few with the wreaths they bring each winter for you to enjoy.

Wreaths, leaves and graves

Wreaths, leaves and graves
© Threw Mikes Eyez

May all who rest here, rest in peace.

Before the snows this week.

Before the snows this week.
© Threw Mikes Eyez