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Driving to a photo assignment this week, I passed a small cemetery in South Hamilton, Massachusetts (one town over from me) and just knew I’d end up back there at the end of the day to photograph the field of gravestones that had been adorned with American flags in preparation for Independence Day.

"The Price of Independence" (Decorated Gravestones, Hamilton Cemetery) Nikon D300, 34mm, F/13, 1/640s, -0.3EV, ISO 400, 'Old West' Toning Action

"Some Gave All" (Decorated Grave of 1812 War Veteran, Hamilton Cemetery) Nikon D300, 28mm, F/14, 1/500s, -0.3EV, ISO 400, 'Old West' Toning Action

Up until that moment, I’d been thinking of the upcoming Fourth of July weekend only in terms of days off from work, lazy afternoons spent poolside, backyard barbecues and fireworks. 

Standing in that cemetery amidst the quiet rows, I was acutely reminded of the everyday freedom I’d been born into and sadly, most often take for granted.

How often do you think of your freedom? Some probably more than others, but I know I don’t nearly enough. Perhaps it is because the thought that someone died so that I can wander freely about my country, go whereever I may, say whatever I feel and think whatever I want,

"The Cross They Bear" (Decorated Gravestones, Hamilton Cemetery) Nikon D300, 48mm, F/8, 1/320s, ISO 400, 'Old West' Toning Action

 is more than I can grasp on an everyday basis.

"Of Church and State" (Hamilton Cemetery and First Congregational Church) Nikon D300, 28mm, F/16, 1/8000s, -1.0EV, ISO 400, 'Old West' Toning Action

It’s a good thing then, there are designated patriotic holidays acting like the proverbial slap to the back of the head yelling, 

‘Hey! You know it wasn’t always THIS easy, right? SEE all those flags? Men and women actually fought and died for this country. For you. Think about that and for Pete’s sake, show some RESPECT!’

So, to the forefathers of this country who bravely gave all they had to declare our independence, and to all the soldiers and patriots who have since committed to protecting our national freedoms at any cost, I simply say ‘thank you’, knowing full well, it will never be enough. 

Happy Fourth! 🙂 



  1. Rupe actually chokes up at the signal of certain patriotic songs, especially on the 4th, believe it or don’t.

    It fascinates me still to see or hear items of history (though Rupe is not necessarily an historical guy) where our founding fathers are concerned or where America is showcased. How can you not swell with pride?

    Happy Fourth of July, Tracy …..

    • Doesn’t surprise me in the least, Rupe! I knew you were a softy… 😉

      I am not historical either and I tend to live in the present, but I certainly can appreciate what occurred to get me to this state of being. Braver folks than I are to thank.

      How can you not, indeed!!! For all its faults. we live in a great nation. You know it and I know it. Anyone who disagrees should go try to live elsewhere for a while…

  2. Excellent light, especially in the first one.

    And Happy 4th to you as well!

    • Thank you, Derrick! It was a very tricky lighting situation and for quite some time I really struggled with not only what to shoot, but how, to keep things interesting. I almost left at one point, defeated, but then, I turned around and tried again, and again and again. I drove around the cemetery trying all sorts of things – many not working – and was very proud of myself with what I ultimated ended up with.

      So glad you liked it, too! 🙂

  3. Beautiful shots, great lighting as well, Happy Fourth of July 🙂

  4. Thanks for the lovely reminder to try not to take what we have for granted.

    I also wanted to mention that the 3rd shot in the post really caught my attention. The flag in the foreground almost has a transparent look to it, which for me gave it a ghostly quality – appropriate for a graveyard shot!

    • You’re welcome! 🙂

      I didn’t notice that – thanks! I just thought the way the stones were forming a cross was an interesting perspective. You’ve now added another dimension, so again, thank you! 🙂

  5. Perfect photos for the 4th of July. Hope you had a fun week-end.

    • Thank you, Michaela!! I hope you did, too!!! 🙂

      We DID and we still are!! Our weather has been incredible! LOTS of time spent in the pool. We could use some rain as we’ve had to water the landscape like crazy but I’m really not complaining. Blue skies, fluffy white clouds and bright sunshine says SUMMER to me!!!

  6. Great photos that remind us of the price for our freedom!

    Freedom’s Never Free
    (Lyrics by Phillips, Craig & Dean)

    Standing on a hillside
    Where the river meets the sea
    White crosses without number
    Line the fields of peace

    And each one a silent witness
    Staring back at me
    Every cross a story
    Of another place in time
    Where young men thought it worthy
    To give their life for mine
    And for the sake of honor
    Left their dreams behind

    And for the price they paid
    I’m forever in their debt
    Their memory will not die
    ‘Cause I will not forget

    I will stand and hold my head up high
    I will dedicate my life
    To the glory of the ones who had to die
    I will live, live what I believe
    If for no one else but me
    I will remember
    That freedom’s never free

    • Thank you, Jan!

      Nice poem! I almost titled the blog post ‘Freedom don’t come free’ – how ironic! 🙂

  7. You certainly captured some amazing light in these shots Tracy…

  8. The first photo is exceptional and a good reminder of the service people in the service give.

  9. Wow, you’ve really done this justice, Tracy. Lovely shots and a good reminder of the meaning behind the 4th.

  10. Wonderful series Tracy and your efforts and persistence paid off. My favorite is “Of church and state”. I am a big fan of scenes with those old steepled New England churches!

    • Thank you, Carol!

      Oooooh, I like that one, too! I was driving around the cemetery and on my way out, I spotted this opportunity. I stopped, took a shot but nope, not right. Pulled the Jeep further up the road, stopped, repeat. Nope. Still not right. I probably did that 4 more times before I found the right flag and the right positioning of the church.

      I certainly take the steepled churches for granted!

  11. very nice tribute and reminder, thanks!

    i like the compo of the second shot a lot – the vertical emphasis on the headstones with the more (i suppose) horizontal emphasis of the vanishing line. if find it a little more interesting than the similar (and quite lovely) first shot. plus the little flower poking in is cool.

    • Thank you and you’re welcome!

      That is quite the analysis (expected from atty you 😉 ). What I like about the first shot is the feeling that the headstones go on forever (which they seemingly do in this particular cemetery) while the second shot is all about the headstone, flag and marker. So, as you can see, when I can’t decide which I like better, I post many! 🙂

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