November 30, 2016

"It's like having it shoved back in my face again. It is a constant reminder to me of that event that night."

"Every time I had to drive by or be taken by be driven by that memorial. This person changed my life. I don't agree with this, but what can I do?"

Take down those roadside memorials. 

32 comments:

Brando said...

It sucks, but I wonder if the memorials are more likely to prevent other accidents along those stretch of roads by reminding drivers of the hazards. Or, are the memorials just more distractions that maybe belong somewhere else.

Hagar said...

Don't mess with other people's religion.

SayAahh said...

Memorials do not belong on roadways.
There are dedicated areas for them elsewhere.

David said...

Take a detour.

JAORE said...

I've never understood why that brings comfort to the loved ones of the dead person. But it must, I suppose.

Bottom line is these memorials are being put up on public r.o.w. My personal opinion is they should be removed. But there is little political will to face the publicity of an anguished, grieving mother on local TV.

AllenS said...

They're an eyesore. Those memorials might cause more accidents than prevent them, because people will take their eyes off of the road to look at the memorial.

Crazy Jane said...

On the other side are the family and friends of the dead girl.

We used to make war memorials to honor our nameless dead, but there came a shift after Vietnam, with Maya Lin's Washington memorial that emphasized not military rectitude but individual loss. The war's purpose and meaning were elusive at best, but at least people could grok that 58,000 of their countrymen -- real people -- had lost their lives honorably as part of that effort.

The 9/11 memorial in NYC also includes the etched names of every person killed, and families seem to take comfort from this. I don't know if relatives will find it so meaningful two generations hence, but personal memorials force us to face two things: first, that someone lived and now is gone, and second, that this is the fate we all face.

I agree that the personal memorials -- particularly the teddy bears and candles on city streets where children have been shot -- border on the grotesque. In my neighborhood a teenager was hit by a car and died as he tried to cross a too-busy street 10 years ago. The fading flowers for the first couple years got old, but someone planted a tree, perhaps to discourage others from similar mistakes and bad luck. It's medium-sized now, and I think of him when I drive by.

David Begley said...

The first time I saw a roadside memorials was in Mexico in 1982. It totally freaked me out because there were so many. And right next to the road. It created the impression of a lawless culture.

Hagar said...

The United States is full of things that still look strange to me after 60+ years, and some things are offensive to my Norwegian sensitivities. We just don't do those things in Norway - or didn't back when anyway. "The whole world is getting Californicated." So, I have just had to deal with it, which has doubtlessly marked my psyche in bad ways, but that is just how it is out there.

Hagar said...

And what the 1st Amendment actually says in contemporary English is just "Don't mess with other people's religion." "Incorporation" just takes that down to the local level, so that the state or local government shall not do so either.

Ann Althouse said...

"On the other side are the family and friends of the dead girl."

The dead girl was responsible for the accident. She did something terribly wrong driving (and paid the price).

The woman who lived was a victim of the dead girl's negligence, and this living woman suffered a great deal of pain, including severe mental pain remembering the accident. She doesn't need a memorial to remember what happened. It's dominated her thoughts for years. Yet the memorial is there, for the girl whose mistake caused the harm.

Why?

Ann Althouse said...

"And what the 1st Amendment actually says in contemporary English is just "Don't mess with other people's religion." "Incorporation" just takes that down to the local level, so that the state or local government shall not do so either."

What? Religious people don't have some special right to erect monuments on public property. If anything, it's a violation of the Establishment Clause!

Jerry said...



Most people who complain about roadside memorials really just don’t like to be reminded of the arbitrary and unfair nature of life.

Hagar said...

Special rights, no. Tolerance for descansos not creating safety hazards or otherwise becoming a nuisance (real- your sense of esthetics don't count), yes.

You do not have a special right to sell your old car from the side of the road either, but it is generally tolerated until some site gets out of hand. Likewise advertising signs, "Burma Shave", election posters, and what have you. There is a lot going on in the public R-O-W's that does not meet with the establishment Clause, and you don't notice it because you are so used to it.

Eric the Fruit Bat said...

Those cheap plastic signs left at odd places along the road that advertise driveway resurfacing, powerwashing, landscaping services, etc. annoy me, as well.

Guerilla marketing, I guess.

Guerilla memorializing.

mockturtle said...

They are very tacky.

MadisonMan said...

It's dominated her thoughts for years. Yet the memorial is there, for the girl whose mistake caused the harm.

Why?

A parallel question: Why can't the woman involved in the accident forgive herself? She did nothing wrong, and was simply in the wrong place at the wrong time. Life is arbitrary and capricious that way.

The memorial I pass most often is the Ghost Bike on University, and I remember the 10-yo boy who died there two summers ago. It reminds me to be alert to my surroundings.

Hagar said...

But "ghostbikes" do have a "special right" in any university town.

Ann Althouse said...

"Most people who complain about roadside memorials really just don’t like to be reminded of the arbitrary and unfair nature of life."

Most people who disapprove of them don't complain. They remain silent because they want to be careful not to hurt any feelings or to be thought of as un-empathetic.

For the few who speak out, what motivates us?

Personally, I am motivated by a preference for an uncluttered visual field, especially while driving. I believe memorials on public property should be aesthetically appealing and carefully sited, no random materials installed at a place where a car happened to wreck. And I believe those of us who have lost loved ones to automobile accidents can find better ways to memorialize the person we knew. As for the reminder for motorists: It's just patronizing. We know cars can crash. Why not put up billboards scaring us about death every few miles? We know! It's not worth wrecking the beauty of the world we live in.

mtrobertslaw said...

It is unclear from the story exactly who was at fault. There may have been contributory negligence on the part of the victim. That would explain her reaction to the memorial.

Hagar said...

But they do "put up billboards scaring us about death every few miles." It is "for the children!"

Tari said...

I sympathize with the woman, but I question why she went to the press like this. She said she couldn't bring herself to write a letter to the girl's parents ... but she can bring herself to talk about this on TV? I think somewhere she crossed a line from "I want this fixed" to "I want everyone to know about ME and my suffering". That is very American, but not everyone gets to go on Dr. Phil, lady.

I don't like roadside memorials much, but, although there are a lot of them in Houston, you don't notice them much. There's too much other stuff cluttering up the road, and too many lunatic drivers taking 100% of your attention to really see them. If you do notice one, you immediately think "oh look, someone died here, and that's not a surprise, because look at that psycho next to me, crossing 4 lanes of traffic at once". And then you go back to driving and looking for the crazy people.

Steven Wilson said...

mtrobertslaw:

Presuming the video is accurate and filmed at the intersection, Kimberly had the right of way as there is a sign indicating "Cross Traffic Does Not Stop" and her original concern was a vehicle approaching at a high speed and so she was preparing to brake when that car stopped. It was this that caused her to be alerted too late to the second car which pulled in front of her. That would presume she was not at fault.




Hagar : I don't think of these as Californication, I think of them as "Princess Dianafication" as that absurd worldwide orgy of faux grief really caught on.

Speaking personally, I find them generally tacky and the vast majority suffer from neglect soon on. They then become potentially distracting eyesores. But even though I feel sympathy for Kimberly, given that she is so affected by the memorial, I believe she will be haunted by it regardless of whether the memorial remains or not.

On a related note: a friend of mine lost his sixteen year old ten years ago this past November, and even though there is no memorial I can never drive past the accident site without thinking of him. I don't need a memorial and I presume friends, relatives, and in this case Kimberly don't need one either to be reminded of it.

The notion that we can involve the Establishment clause here leaves me gaping like a hyperventilated carp.

SGT Ted said...

"They are very tacky."

I hear this said in a Thurston Howell accent.

Martin said...

I agree, take them down. After a few months people need to move on with their life (I write as someone whose first wife was killed in an accident). If you want to do something in memory of a friend or loved one, there are better and more meaningful ways to do so.

mikee said...

A year of mourning and memorializing the dead on our highways seems enough to assuage the legitimate grief of a family wanting to remember their loss. Take them down after 12 months, maximum.

Larry J said...

While driving in the Colorado high country several years ago, I saw many official signs marking the locations of fatal accidents. They served the purpose of reminding drivers of dangerous locations without appearing tacky. Here's a link to the Colorado Memorial Sign Program. More info is available here.

I don't know to what extent memorials and signs reduce accidents but many of them have caught my attention. For example, when driving on I-70 across Missouri, I saw quite a few memorials near the Columbia exit. Columbia is the home of the University of Missouri, so perhaps the number of signs should be expected.

William Chadwick said...

If Hillary won, I was going to put up a roadside memorial for the Second Amendment. It would be a teddy bear holding a toy assault-rifle.

Yancey Ward said...

Tari writes the comment I would write here- the woman's actions and her words don't align very well.

These sorts of memorials are all over the roads here in Tennessee. I don't mind them, and they don't distract me any more than any other thing in my visual field would. At every one I have passed, though, I do take the time to think about how the accident might have happened in that particular location. In some places, it is pretty obvious what happened once you think about it. I can say that those reflections have probably made me a safer driver overall.

Andy crew said...

QuickBooks Support Phone Number +1 855 924 9509 http://www.quickbooksphonesupportnumber.com/
QuickBooks Tech Support Number +1 855 924 9509 http://www.quickbooksphonesupportnumber.com/
QuickBooks 24/7 Support Phone Number +1 855 924 9509 http://www.quickbooksphonesupportnumber.com/
QuickBooks Customer Service Number +1 855 924 9509 http://www.quickbooksphonesupportnumber.com/
QuickBooks POS Support Number +1 855 924 9509
http://www.quickbooksphonesupportnumber.com/

SukieTawdry said...

Some of the roadside memorials in Mexico are quite elaborate and housed in structures meant to be permanent. Of course, Mexicans tend to overdo these things.

The practice is spreading beyond the highway. I saw one earlier this year in DuPont State Forest at the base of Hooker Falls (which you might recognize if you've seen The Last of the Mohicans or The Hunger Games). It was quite lavish and included a biography of the deceased.

mockturtle said...

On US 2 through northern Idaho and western Montana, there are little white crosses--a LOT of little white crosses!--along the roadside where fatalities have occurred. These are not tacky and definitely make one consider the implications.