Beaufort National Cemetery


Thank You For Your Service

Of course it goes well beyond this hallowed site. The human race has invested blood and treasure measured in the billions in an attempt to assure its security. In some cases – such as ours – freedom was the return on that effort. In others, an increased and increasing level of misery and despair.

Days of remembrance, such as this Veteran’s Day in the United States, are pasted all over the global calendar, setting aside an annual slice of time to recall and consider the sacrifices made so that we can recall and consider. In my immediate family those thoughts extend to my grandfather, my mother, my uncle, my son, and in all due modesty, me.  And in my extended family more people have served than I’ve ever come to know or know about. Most of us returned home with all out physical parts intact.  I can’t really speak for our other essential elements of our being – mind and spirit – but if my personal experiences are any measure the enemies we all battled  on the killing fields are vastly outnumbered by the demons we fought (and fight) that followed us home.

Wars never really end. It’s tragic so few leaders manage to grasp a working understanding of that simple fact. Some of ours have: Washington. Lincoln. Roosevelt. And most certainly Eisenhower and Kennedy. Lincoln and Franklin Roosevelt escaped the immediate physical pain we have become so ready to inflict on the battlefield, but not the demons those fields release. Never.

And, lest we forget, as it’s written somewhere, those also serve who stand and wait. We don’t have days set aside to honor them. Our leaders occasionally give speeches to address, in passing, their courage and some of our policies recognize the part they played to support their warrior, but rarely is it mentioned that for every one of the stones that planted in our memorial cemeteries there are probably dozens of survivors who mourn the loss of the person lying below. And grief, like war, never really ends.

I captured the image depicted here some months past. In my travels I visit cemeteries all over the country. I read the inscriptions the families have etched on the face of the markers and sometimes marvel at the monuments that some of the residents or their associates have erected in their own memory. You don’t find those sorts of self-centered edifices in a military cemetery.  There are lots of very good reasons for that but one certainly is that most of these warriors never lived very long. Most of them were veritable children. Children that we  sacrificed for the greater good.  That’s about what I was feeling when I sat in this cemetery on the day I photographed it. I was grateful for the souls those stones represented. Not all of them died in combat – but they could have had the dice rolled maybe once more in their direction instead of toward the warrior standing next to them.  There are many ways to serve. And there are many ways to die.

I always think of my son on occasions like this. He is no longer in service. He made it through not one but two wars and found his way back into workaday society. He escaped the perils of battle when his commander-in-chief , who together with his principal advisors had never personally experienced the hell of war, sent him on these vainglorious missions. Humans forgive, but forgetting is another thing.

Remembering doesn’t seem to have had any effect on our affinity to engage in mortal combat as a solution to our presumed feelings of national insecurity. But at the very least it does seem to have resulted in our planting fewer of these stones (for our side anyway) than did our forebears. They engaged in conflicts that counted their service victims in the hundreds of thousands. The war I lent my hand to accounted for them in the tens of thousands. And my son’s? In the thousands. The question is, does this continuing decline in combat losses represent an increasing willingness to seek less bloodthirsty implements of negotiation for maintaining the peace, or is it simply a reflection of an increasing efficiency in deploying the tools of death? The cynic in me leans toward the latter as the answer but deep down in my psyche I’m really, really hoping it’s the former.

I’ll never run out of cemeteries to visit. As much as I despise the reason that many of the residents are victims of political chicanery of the vilest order (doesn’t sound as good as courageous warriors who gave their all in defense of your freedoms does it?) as long as I remember them and pay them homage they will not have died in vain. I owe them that much. We all do. We who also served.



Olympia, a set on Flickr.

The path from the Olympic Peninsula to Mt Rainier passes right through Olympia, the state Capitol. I thought I’d see how it compared to Bismarck.

No contest. The Capitol Campus as it’s called here is awesome. Sits on a beautifully landscaped hill overlooking the Port of Olympia and incorporates the architectural norms I would expect to find. Puts that pile of concrete and glass in Bismarck to utter shame.



Hurricane Ridge

From the main Visitor’s Center in Port Angeles its a winding 17 mile drive to the top of Hurricane Ridge. At sea level the weather today is sketchy. A little sun. A little rain. A little cloudiness. Slight breeze off the surrounding waters of the peninsula. At ~5200 ft it changes. As you can see. Or not.

I took the picture from the veranda of the visitor center on top the ridge. There’s an enclosed observation area but I didn’t want to shoot through the glass. In reality I suspect it makes not much difference in terms of what’s visible.

A lot of wind up here. No sun lately. Angled rain. Cuts right through you. And yet the Center (which is closed for the season) has filled with twenty or more people in the past few minutes all spreading picnics on the tables in the main room. I drove several thousand miles to not see this view today. Where they’re coming from God only knows.

I hadn’t expected to even glimpse wildlife up here this afternoon but as I sit here writing there is a very persistent hawk circling the area pictured looking for his picnic. I don’t think I want to be reincarnated as a hawk, at least not in this territory.

A large portion of this park is rain forest, something I got a first hand view of initially in Cascades. I’m looking forward to exploring more here. I think I’m going to hang for a few days. Most of the campgrounds are open – and not crowded – but it appears we’re going to get a lot of rain through about Saturday. There are plenty of roofed places to stay as an alternative to the tent. Lacking an illusionary reaction from anything I might ingest I’m going for dry with an Internet connection.

For now I’m going to descend in search of greater visibility. Charles would love it up here. Ruth would be looking for a club to bludgeon me with.





Took the ferry from Coupeville to Port Townsend this morning. Heading into Olympic NP. Temps mild but biting with the winds out here. Am thinking about camping here if it’s not too cold and they’re still some open camp grounds.

Picture is the landing at Pt Townsend.



I haven’t yet visited all the state capitols in the US. It’s not really on my list. But I’m traveling along I-94 west today and it passes right by Bismarck, the Capitol of North Dakota. So I thought I’d drive by the Capitol building and see how it compared – especially with the one in South Dakota (which I’ve panned more than once).

Well, if I’d not been paying close attention to the signs I’d have driven right past the place. It’s tall. Imposing. And it sits on a small hill. But it’s not the sort of architecture, at least on the outside, I’d associate with the centerpiece of state government. Pierre may have only one main street to its name but it has a beautiful Capitol building along that sorry street.

This one in Bismarck looks more like LAPD Headquarters.

On to TR National Park.



Mt Desert Island

This is a shot of the Mt Desert Museum & Gardens. Passed it yesterday on a driving tour of the Southwest side of the island which included some hiking round the Seawall area and some reasonably good shots of the coast in the late afternoon. It was sunny and warm in the afternoon which made the wind rain and cold that blew through later even more of a contrast. Downright cold this morning but the sun is back and the fog gone. Topped Cadillac Mtn as the sun was rising. If the weather holds, hardly the norm, might get a sunset from same. If I do, so will you.


Déja Vu All Over Again

Room with a vu. Mt Desert Island, ME. Edge of Acadia NP


Autumn in Acadia


Project 365 – Day 37

Ogden. I suppose by now you’ve figured out there are some gaps in my Project 365 photo posts. It seemed simple to adhere to this schedule but I’ve found it more rigorous that I had imagined. So, I’ll get them up in numerical order but there probably  not one every single day.

What you see here is a crypt in the Fairview Cemetery on the outskirts of Bowling Green, KY. I visited there last Veteran’s Day near the end of the long 2011 road trip. I seem to spend a lot of time in cemeteries. Occasionally they make good subjects because of the stories that can be constructed from the stones.

Cemeteries were on my mind today. Their residents are the only ones completely exempt from tax of any sort in this country. But in some parts of the country they have been known to vote. 🙂

Project 365 – Day 34 (Sort Of)

The first thing I want to say is I deliberately skipped posting yesterday. I’m well aware of the nature of the day and mean no disrespect but I didn’t think posting yet another flag or stone or plaque or whatever would add to the narrative. And I didn’t want to post non-related stuff so I simply stood down.

But there is another reason too.

On the day the attacks took place on our country eleven years ago, at the very hour of the attack in fact, Ruth and I were in the back of a London taxi on our way to Heathrow for our flight back to US. We’d had a long weekend in London celebrating our third wedding anniversary. As it turned out we were not able to leave UK for another week. But from that day forward the remembrance of the 9/11 attacks became inextricably intertwined with our anniversary celebration.

That was a long time ago. Ruth as been gone now for more than five years and I suppose the truth is that I’ve grown accustomed to ignoring both the 11th and the 12th of September. The one only brings to mind the utter senselessness of the human race’s quest for control of things it will never, ever overcome. The other brings to mind the loss that punched a hole in my heart that has never entirely healed.

But on this 12th September something different occurred. My daughter AnnaSummer, who is engaged to a wonderful young man named Massie, sent me a photograph of the ring she’d had fashioned from the wedding band and engagement ring that I had given Ruth fourteen years ago. I’d met with Massie in Charlottesville on the 17th August to pass these  on to him while he was back from Austin on a visit with friends and family. In the eight years that he and AnnaSummer have been together I think this was the first time that the two of us had ever spent any private time together. I came away from that meeting knowing that my favorite daughter had made a good decision (as had Massie) and feeling very optimistic about their nuptials next September in Charlottesville. I also came away very pleased that AnnaSummer would have another connection to Ruth and that Ruth, wherever she is on her new assignment, would be looking on approvingly. The love between these two women was and is palpable and eternal.

So todays picture, the 34th posted although not the 34th day, is of the ring as it exists now and will on the day Anna officially dons it. It’s accompanied by a picture of Ruth accepting the original from me on 12th September 1998.


It’s an interesting design. The wedding band and the engagement ring were not a matched set. but they were what Ruth wanted. The band is gold and has diamonds embedded over half its surface. The engagement ring was more traditional with a three diamond array in a platinum setting. They do not physically sit well together. That was of no concern to Ruth who only wore the engagement ring with the band on special occasions. But AnnaSummer wanted to wear both rings together all the time and the fit was not working for her. So, she asked about modifying them to suit her approach and I thought it was a good way to make it both hers and Ruth’s. She consulted with her jeweler – yes, she has a jeweler; don’t ask – and they came up with the design amalgam you see here. I love it. I know Ruth  would; she’s probably wondering: Why didn’t I think of that?

Along with the picture of the new ring I had some other reminders today. I’ve packed up Ruth’s journals to store in our niece’s basement in preparation for a very long road trip I’m about to launch. And so I’ve read them again as I pack. Ruth was a prolific writer, a fact for which I will be forever grateful. But the journal I seemed to focus on today was the last one – the one that documented her feelings and activities in the last year. By this time all the shortcomings embodied in our relationship with one another over the years were set aside as we joined forces in the war against the cancer that was engulfing her tongue and throat and chest. So reading the account was not just reading Ruth’s story but our story. It was not easy then and folks it ain’t much easier now.

My mother, who I never knew, died of cancer at the age of 47. Ruth, who as I look back on it now was the only other woman of import in my life up to that point, made it to 57. There’s something terribly wrong about this and I’ve been flooded with that thought all day. I got a short break with the Wednesday Spook Lunch group but then fell right back into the hole. Putting it down here in electronic ink is helping me climb out. And by tomorrow I hope to have dragged myself up and over the edge.

The ring on Anna’s finger: past. present and future in platinum, gold and diamonds.

No one loved is ever lost and Ruth was loved so much.


Project 365 Day 25

Project 365 Day 25, a photo by RichardGHarrison on Flickr.

Foliage in the Badlands

Project 365 Day 24 – YoYo Departs


YoYo departs for his forever home.

A bittersweet moment. I’ve had YoYo as a foster cocker for the last six months working on his fear aggressiveness. In that period of time he progressed from the dog who bit me the first time I attempted to put a collar on him to one whose boundaries now know no limits. He’s the sixth Cocker Spaniel I’ve fostered this year for Oldies But Goodies Cocker Spaniel Rescue in the Greater Washington DC area and certainly the most memorable. I will miss his presence when I turn the light out tonight and when I roll out in the morning the scene will be a bit vacant lacking his smiling face and wagging stubby tail.

He had been so poorly treated by whoever it was that owned him before he came to OBG. But we’ve done everything in our power to make up for that. I suspect he’ll never forget either circumstance but he is at heart a loving and loyal companion and I envy his new human family. He’ll be joining another rescue dog and three rescue cats in this next chapter in his life. I hope to run into him again at some future OBG family event.

I give myself a day to grieve a little and then check back in to see what help I can provide to the new arrivals. And there will always be new arrivals – the need never ends. We’re all they have.

Via Flickr:
YoYo Departs For His Forever Home


Project 365 Day 21

Project 365 Day 21 by RichardGHarrison
Project 365 Day 21, a photo by RichardGHarrison on Flickr.

Window Dressing

Project 365 Day 17

With A Little Help From My Friend – Heron House

Friend being Dave Davidson who supplied the original image for edit

Project 365 Day 17 by RichardGHarrison
Project 365 Day 17, a photo by RichardGHarrison on Flickr.

Project 365 Day 16

Salem Cemetery


Project 365 Day 15

Lost In The Light

Project 365 Day 15 by RichardGHarrison
Project 365 Day 15, a photo by RichardGHarrison on Flickr.

Project 365 Day 14

Project 365 Day 14 by RichardGHarrison
Project 365 Day 14, a photo by RichardGHarrison on Flickr.

Sam – We miss you

Project 365 Day 13


Project 365 Day 13 by RichardGHarrison
Project 365 Day 13, a photo by RichardGHarrison on Flickr.

AnnaSummer – The sort of Daughter everyone wishes they had


Project 365 Day 9

Project 365 Day 8 - by RichardGHarrison
Project 365 Day 8 –, a photo by RichardGHarrison on Flickr.

In Memoriam – Ruthiecee
Ruth Elizabeth Crawford
23 April 1950 – 17 August 2007
No One Loved Is Ever Lost and She was Loved so Much

Project 365 Day 2

The Wiehle Station Bridge

I was out shopping for the day’s photo for the Project 365 Day 2 and had my eye set on the Wiehle Station at sunset. I’d been planning this for a couple of weeks waiting for the right time and the right light and trying to work it into my chaotic schedule. I got the station shot, several of them. And I liked most of what I saw. What you see here started out as a test shot. It wound up as my favorite in the set. Visual Serendipity.