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Photographer's Note

GHOSTS OF THE FALLEN

A century and a half ago 34 states comprised the United States (there are 50 now). Then in 1861 the Confederate States — the eleven states of the South — launched a desperate war to secede, or to break off from the union. And the Union (or Northern States) fought to stop the Southern secession. Most people who think about the event now — laymen and scholars alike — regard the incident as a national tragedy in which families were divided, “brothers fighting against brothers.” Abraham Lincoln, who hailed from the mid western State of Illinois, was the President of the United States during those war years, and is now recognized as one of the 3-4 greatest Presidents, precisely because the North prevailed in the war, and the union was preserved.

Located right on the border of the Northern and Southern States, Fredericksburg, Virginia changed hands a total of seven times during battles of the Civil War (1861-’65). On a bone-chilling week in December 1862, the Battle of Fredericksburg was fought, pitting over 100,000 Union and Confederate soldiers against each other. The hauntingly beautiful battlefield presents a poignant vision — of an area where thousands of young soldiers died.

My daily drive to work to teach my classes takes me through a 7-km stretch of the battlefield, with the trenches used by the Confederate troops running alongside the narrow meandering roadway. I was on my way to teach an 8:00 am class yesterday morning when I saw the sun piercing the low lying fog and streaming though the trees. I felt compelled to pull over and take a few photographs. I have submitted images from this area before, but it is impossible not to be moved each time by the beauty of the woods, and to want to record it anew each time. There is also the omnipresent feeling of the presence of all those fallen young men!

For this photograph I let one of the trees eclipse the sun, and the shadows of the trees to create a radial pattern. An omnipresent companion has become a new Nikon Coolpix S600. It does not have the capabilities of my bigger camera, a Nikon D200, but it is far more convenient, fits into a belt holster, and it also shoots 10.2 MP images.

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Additional Photos by Bulent Atalay (batalay) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 6029 W: 457 N: 10440] (35125)
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