I have a deep respect and honor for those who put themselves in harms way to protect me and my family from domestic and foreign enemies. The valor of the men and women who put on the uniform is incredible. I like to think that I’m a tough guy, but when I imagine what it would be like to be in battle in any of the wars and conflicts throughout our history, I suddenly don’t feel tough anymore. I believe these men an women deserve our respect and the fallen deserved to be honored.
My family honors our fallen heroes. We always make time to visit the cemeteries to plant flags. During this time, we reflect and have discussions about history. I love this quality time. My wife, the historian, is full of knowledge and interesting facts, especially when it comes to Civil War history. It’s like taking the classroom to the cemetery. On Memorial Day, as a family, we planned to visit a local cemetery later in the evening. However, I got up early that morning to visit a few cemeteries in the Nashville area.
The first stop was the Nashville National Cemetery in Madison. This would be my first time visiting this cemetery. I love the quietness and solitude of large cemeteries. For a while, it appeared I was the only one there as my arrival was right at sunrise. I drove around the cemetery and stopped whenever something caught my eye. I decided that I would grab my trusty SLR. I also decided that black and white would be my medium. Color would have been great for the blue, white and red colors of Old Glory, but I thought black and white would add to the somber mood.
I was drawn to the composition of the tree in the next shot. From my perspective, it was isolated from the other trees and it sat perfectly in the middle of a field of tombstones. It reminds me of a tree that would be a meeting place.
I continued my journey around the cemetery and grabbed a few more shots before leaving.
My next stop would be the Mount Olivet Cemetery. I visited this cemetery last year for the first time when my wife suggested I make a visit. My main purpose for the visit at the time was to see Confederate Circle. I also made Confederate Circle my main focus for this visit as well. Below is an excerpt about Confederate Circle from the Battle of Nashville Preservation Society.
Confederate Circle honors memory of soldiers:
The 250-acre cemetery, which opened in 1855, is situated on a hilltop, graced with large, old trees and evergreens, and impressive statuary, crypts, and tombs.
After the War Between the States, the women of Nashville bought land at Mount Olivet, and formed Confederate Circle. The remains of about 1,500 Confederate soldiers were moved here from area battlefields.
Seven Confederate generals are buried in or around the circle. They are William B. Bate, William N.R, Bealle, Benjamin Franklin Cheatham, William H. Jackson, George E. Maney, James E. Rains, and Thomas Benton Smith. Other prominent Nashville Confederates, Colonels Adolphus Heiman and Randall McGavock, lie nearby.
A 45-foot granite monument marks the center of the circle.
After leaving Confederate Circle, I spent some time driving around the cemetery. I then headed West on a 40 minute drive to the Middle Tennessee State Veterans Cemetery. I’ve frequented this cemetery many times over the years. I noticed during this visit that vacant areas of the cemetery were beginning to be filled with recent plots. Some had markers, but no tombstones. I also noticed that there were many people in the cemetery paying their respects. There were single men and women visiting the grave of their lost loved ones. There were small and large families sitting in picnic formations around tombstones. A group of bikers paraded through the cemetery. There was even an organized group of Jeep enthusiast parked around the large flag pole. There was probably over 20 Jeeps lined up. The Jeeps ranged from older models to the latest. The participants got out of their vehicles and held hands around the half-staffed flag making a huge circle. This circle had dispersed before I could park my car and grab the camera. I had to settle for a shot of the flag without the circle of people.
It was a busy afternoon in the cemetery. Getting a tombstone shot without people proved to be a task. However, I finally found an angle and a composition I liked. Once the shot was composed, I waited for the wind to give a gentle push to open up the flag in the background at half-staff.
That would be the only shot I would get without people. If fact, I was ready to leave when I saw a scene that resonated with me. I immediately stopped the car and headed over to make the shot.
This photo speaks for itself. I’ve seen shots like this that were moving, but I’d never thought I would come across a chance to create a photo like this with my own camera. I had no intention of going into street photography mode, but I could not pass up this shot. Staying in street photography mode, I found similar shots that tugged at the heart strings.
From time to time, we experience things that cause us to reflect and put things in perspective. Seeing the pain and sorrow in the cemetery was one of those moments for me. On that solemn note, I headed home.
Later that evening, my family and I visited the Rose Hill Cemetery in Columbia. The weather did not cooperate with us, so we did not stay long. While I did not get any pictures that evening, I did capture some images the previous day.
This was a nice way to get some shutter therapy. Before I end this post, I would like to say that I have the same respect for our men and women in the police uniform and the fire fighting uniform. Their bravery and commitment to protect and serve deserves to be recognized as well. Thank you to ALL the men and women in uniform and thank you for reading!
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