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Highway Cross Memorials Really a Problem?



  • I remember that! I was down there around in the nineties.
    Use to be around Newport News/Hampton VA. on I-64.

    I liked it - got a kick out of it. Sorry to see it gone. So they said it was a safety problem, for crying out loud, life in general is a safety problem - you never get out alive.
  • I agree that they're acceptable, even though I truly don't understand the mentality behind it.

    Here's the thing, though -- nine times out of ten, isn't setting one of these up going to be a significant hazard in and of itself? One or more cars on the shoulder, someone hammering a stake into the ground, flowers, the photo, the whole nine yards? I mean, it's only a matter of time before we hear about an eighteen-wheeler drifting off the road and plowing into a group of people installing a roadside memorial (if it hasn't happened already).

    I'm amazed by A. the sheer number of these things and B. some of the weird places where I see them. One of the closest to my house is off an ON-ramp from a local street onto a no-commercial-vehicle parkway. I can't figure out how that must've happened. And then there are the scary stretches of I-80 in eastern PA, where you seem to see them every quarter of a mile.
  • 1racefan1racefan Posts: 932
    I kind of understand the whole roadside memorial deal. But, I would never put one up myself for a loved one, and I believe they should only be allowed to remain for 30 days, and should have to be taken down.

    However, one trend that I don't understand is where people are now having decals made, to go on the back of their vehicles that say, "In Loving Memory of 'insert name here', 19xx-20xx".

    I could understand a sticker like this being placed on a custom car, if a father and son were building it together, and one died before it was completed. However, I am seeing more and more of these stickers on normal everyday cars. When I die, I don't want to be remembered by a sticker on the back of a relative/friend's Hyundai.
  • PF_FlyerPF_Flyer Pennsylvania Furnace, PAPosts: 5,854
    I mean, that's hard to say having never had a loved one die in a traffic accident, but I tend to move on fairly rapidly and prefer to remember how people were, not how they died.

    We had afatal accident just a mile from my house a few years ago that I just missed having a chance to be involved in. The only reason that I wasn't the car going through the intersection at a high rate of speed was that the car that did was going sofast that they prevented me from pulling out of my street. I had to wait as they sped ahead and were hit by someone at a crossroads.I came upon the scene maybe 10 seconds after it happened.

    Long story short, the car withthe fatalitywas going 60 in a 30 zone, came to an intersection where someone unfamiliar with the area was trying to find their way and drove through a difficult to see stop sign and t-boned them.

    A roadside memorial was erected with fresh flowers, etc. The township had relocated the stop sign toa more prominent place afterwards, and made it the biggest stopsign I've ever seen, but approaching that stop sign your attention was definitely drawn to the floral display since it was this burst of color and "stuff" in fairly barren swampy ground.
    Quite a few people were concerened about it as a distraction and it eventually disappeared.

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  • tpetpe Posts: 2,342
    Well remember when the "Baby On Board" signs were popular? Thankfully it finally sunk in to most people how ridiculous the whole idea was. Were we supposed to read these signs and choose to have an accident with another vehicle? Who knows what motivates people to do some things but a good percentage definitely have the sheep mentality and enjoy being part of a trend. I've seen these "Loving Memory" decals and can't grasp the rational behind them. Is it that these people consider a decal on a vehicle to be the highest expression of love? At least it's their vehicle so it represents private property. As such they can use it to make whatever statement they want.

    There is one of these memorials a few blocks from where I work. A couple weeks ago it was decorated with a bunch of tacky inflatable foil balloons. It's all now deflated and tattered and looks like crap; not that it looked good to begin with. It's pure size makes it more of an eyesore than a paper cup that you'd get fined $1000 for throwing out your window. Maybe we need to have some style committee that reviews these sites.
  • PF_FlyerPF_Flyer Pennsylvania Furnace, PAPosts: 5,854
    Guy was riding a bicycle along a road and struck and killed by a guy who was legally blind yet still driving. Very tragic, and the victim was very well liked. But what purpose does it serve to have a bicycle that's entirely painted white chained to a guard rail at the spot more than a year later?

    It's not part of my makeup to dwell on that kind of thing forever.

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  • cccompsoncccompson Posts: 2,388
    Don't know about other states but Ohio has gotten into the habit of naming freeways after state highway patrol officers killed in the line of duty on the road. They seems to erect the sign right where the officer died.
  • why do we need to see these goofy memorials all over the roadsides and now as decals on cars?

    Looking at it another way...who says your loved one is worth more than my loved one after they die? A person is worth about the same amount as another person. Not one iota more. It's this "me" generation now and Donald Trump and Britney Sneers that actually think they are worth more than other people, when we all know(or should know)they're not.

    I agree..make these eyesores go away - now.

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  • PF_FlyerPF_Flyer Pennsylvania Furnace, PAPosts: 5,854
    I've removed the off topic stuff that just cropped up. Let's try to avoid making these discussions personal please.

    Seems as though we maybe done with this subject.

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  • tpetpe Posts: 2,342
    Don't know about other states but Ohio has gotten into the habit of naming freeways after state highway patrol officers killed in the line of duty on the road.

    Well thankfully they don't do this in Maryland. I'm curious, how many freeways are there in Ohio? Seems like you'd eventually run out and only be able to name a lane after an officer or maybe an offramp. After that you'd probably have to get down to naming those little bumps that separate lanes but that's well in the future. Basically I don't understand this fascination with memorials. What does it accomplish?
  • rorrrorr Posts: 3,630
    I think there has been a national trend over the last couple of decades to SHARE our pain with the general public (I call it the "Oprah Syndrone"). For some strange reason, more and more folks simply CAN'T keep their grief private, and the need to express themselves publically takes many forms (from the roadside memorials to decals on cars).

    Look at the number of daytime shows which are essentially DEVOTED to broadcasting human trainwreck stories and the never ending supply of tragic figures EAGER to share their misfortune with millions of viewers. I remember clearly the story from just a month or so ago about the young boy who was a kidnapping victim who had been held for 4 years. Within 48 hours of his release from what ever sick experiences he'd endured, he was on Oprah. Is this healthy? Do we as the American public REALLY need to wallow in this?

    I can understand grief. I can understand the need to get support from family and close friends. I DON'T understand the 'need' some folks have to share their grief with total it really healthy or is it just a way for some folks to get their 15 minutes.....
  • kyfdxkyfdx Posts: 27,704
    I just don't get why you erect a memorial at the place the person died.. It seems kind of morbid.

    If he fell off the roof, would you leave the ladder up with a bouquet on it?

    If he died on the toilet, would you drop a little plastic wreath in the bowl?

    How about if he slipped on a wet floor at Wal-Mart? A cross with flowers in Aisle 6?

    Plus, as mentioned above... many, many times.. it is a memorial to the poor deceased's own stupidity.

    I'm all for grieving, even publicly if it helps... but, roadside memorials seem over the top, especially the ones that are constantly maintained over time.


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  • larsblarsb Posts: 8,204
    That's a good point, and it stimulated this thought:

    Most of these people are YOUNG people who have died, many of them under 25 and an usually high number of teens. Many or most of them (I would bet) were not wearing their seatbelts at the time of the accident, due in part to the aura of invincibility that young people have.

    People first of all just DO NOT READILY ACCEPT the death of a young person. It goes against human nature. Parents are SUPPOSED to outlive their kids. When someone young dies senselessly (perhaps a drunk driver?) on the road, it somehow makes the death a little WORSE.

    Especially if it's a pedestrian death. I had one of those near a school near my last home - a 13 year old girl legally crossing in the crosswalk and just hit by an inattentive driver.

    That was a hard pill to swallow for the parents and the friends. Such a young life taken so soon, so unfairly. It generates a lot of unusually high grief levels, and ALL they can really do to help share in the grief is put up a memorial.

    It's just a part of the grieving process.
  • rorrrorr Posts: 3,630
    "It's just a part of the grieving process."

    A memorial is part of the grieving process. Placing the memorial at the accident site is part of making the process PUBLIC.

    And it is this desire to make what should be a private issue a public issue is the part I don't understand. I mean, where does this trend stop? Are we far from the day when parents rent space on billboards to memorialize the loss of a child? Buying 30-sec TV spots? Yes, the loss of a child is devastating for precisely the reasons you indicate (parents aren't supposed to bury their children), but at what point do memorials cease being part of a healing process and enter the realm of bad taste?

    My answer to that is whenever the grieving party takes the memorial public when the public has no interest in the deceased.
  • larsblarsb Posts: 8,204
    Well, at least SOME of the public has interest, or nothing would appear at the memorial.

    I see the point though - vast majority of "drivers by" did not know the deceased or care about them.

    My original point stands though - as long as they are not a traffic hazard, what are they REALLY hurting?

    PS Something else I just thought about:

    Is it already so "trendy" that a parent who DOES NOT put up a memorial will be ridiculed behind their back for not putting one up? That would be a shame if we have reached that point.
  • rorrrorr Posts: 3,630
    They aren't "hurting" anything in a real, defineable sense. But, at some point, one does cross the bounds between private grieving and attempting to wallow in the trough of public sympathy.

    "Is it already so "trendy" that a parent who DOES NOT put up a memorial will be ridiculed behind their back for not putting one up? That would be a shame if we have reached that point."

    I think 'ridicule' would be too strong. But I think that we HAVE reached the point that if a parent loses a child and they DON'T put up a little roadside memorial, some folks WILL wonder (out load) why they haven't done so. In a sense, I believe that it has become the 'expected' response.
  • wale_bate1wale_bate1 Posts: 1,986

    Mark the calendar... :shades:

    Grief shared with loved ones and friends is cathartic; a way to give unreserved good will to each other to move forward. Little public shrines do zip, other than expose the public at large to something that ought to be personal.

    Still, don't really care if they're there (unless they're out of hand), don't care if they have to go.
  • rorrrorr Posts: 3,630
    dammit wale - now I've got to go and recheck my premise.... ;)
  • Kirstie_HKirstie_H Posts: 10,824
    It's not a huge issue to me either, but I do think that at a point it becomes cluttery and tacky (for the record, I'm a neat freak and I also hate billboards). Plus, I've seen some that are falling to pieces because they're erected and then not maintained... that's the same as litter.

    And, they can become a distraction if there's a message, e.g., "Billy died here on xx date because he wasn't wearing his seatbelt. Don't let the same happen to you - buckle up and stay alive." That's too much to read.

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  • 210delray210delray Posts: 4,722
    I go by one of these memorials every day on my commute. It consists of 3 large white crosses, on the right side of the road. Originally, somewhat smaller crosses were in the median, but the state DOT (Virginia) deemed them a road hazard, so the replacements were put up on private land owned by a church.

    The annoying thing is that they've been up since 1998!

    I know the story behind the memorial. It seems one warm day nearly 9 years ago, a 17-year-old woman driving a Jeep Cherokee in the right lane of this 4-lane highway was distracted by a bee that flew inside her vehicle. She swerved to the left just as a Monte Carlo was starting to pass her in the left lane.

    So, the 49-year-old woman driving the Monte Carlo swerved to her left, lost control in the median, rolled over and tumbled upside down into the oncoming lanes, where her car was hit by a Nissan Altima. Unfortunately, the woman had her nieces (I think) in the car, ages 10 and 4, who were completely unrestrained, ejected, and killed. The woman also was unbelted and killed.

    IIRC, there were two women in the Altima who were not seriously injured.

    I saw photos of the Monte Carlo. The roof was crushed somewhat in the front, but the rear part of the roof was okay. There is no doubt in my mind that if the kids had been properly restrained in the back seat, they would have survived, probably without serious injuries. I can't say for sure about the driver.

    The husband of the fatally injured driver has maintained the crosses, which include the first names and ages of the deceased. He decorates them for every holiday, such as Valentine's Day, Easter, Halloween(!), and Christmas. Mylar birthday balloons are tied to the appropriate cross when the time comes. Right now, Christmas wreaths are still on the crosses. He planted 3 trees in the median where the Monte crossed over, but only one still survives.

    The kicker is this guy was so obsessed that he stalked the local district attorney for not pressing charges against the teenager driving the Cherokee. He even received some kind of conviction (maybe a fine) for harassing said prosecutor.

    I have this fantasy of ripping up those crosses out of the ground in the dark of night, carrying them away in my pickup, and dumping them in the woods at my workplace. Don't worry, I'll never actually do it!

    There's another spot near Winchester, VA on US 522 where 5 similar crosses are erected in the median. The road is 4-lane, but rather curvy at that spot, and goes over a small creek. Must have been one heck of a crash.
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