Road Side Memorials
I used to do a lot of driving on the East Coast and I have to say that I never saw road-side memorials there like I see here in Oregon.
I recently drove down to Myrtle Point to give a lecture and it seemed that not ten miles would pass without seeing a white cross beside the road, decorated with a wreath, or flowers, or stuffed animals, or photographs marking the spot where someone’s loved one lost their life on the road. There are several in Clatsop County as well on Hwy 30, 101, 105 and 26. There are even some back on country roads.
It’s alarming that I know more people who have died in automobile crashes than from any other cause. The next would be suicide. I lost my eldest brother in a car crash. He was driving down a road when someone who was leaving a convenience store pulled out in front of him. Though his death would have been totally prevented had he been wearing a seat belt.
I once pulled out in front of a car like that when I was 17. Fortunately, I and the driver who struck my car were wearing seat belts. I couldn’t live with myself that the driver died in the crash.
I when I was in my 20s, my divorce attorney ran into the back of a semi and was beheaded. Many childhood friends died in wrecks as well.
I recall the first roadside fatality I saw as a kid. It was a drunk driver who hit a utility pole near my house. The car was nearly sliced in half. I recall seeing the driver by the reflection of the police car lights. He was slumped over the wheel, dead. There were beer cans on his dash board. I didn’t know him, but I’m sure that forty years later someone still thinks of him and remembers the last time they saw him alive. I didn’t even know him and I remember seeing him dead.
I used to think that these white cross road side memorials were gaudy, but now I see them and I reflect on the lives that were lost and how fragile we really are even with seat belts and air bags. When I drive by them I try to imagine what when wrong and I slow down, making sure I don’t succumb to the same fate.