This morning, I came across a unique work of journalism in my local newspaper. Hannah Strong of The Sun News wrote a piece titled “Horry’s Crosses to Bear.” The front page feature told the stories of various crosses and memorials that motorists pass by while driving on Horry County roads.
Strong carefully detailed numerous memorials around the Myrtle Beach area, describing what they are constructed of, who they are constructed for, and the relief they give to loved ones who visit them. She also recounted the tragedies that led to existence of each one. Many vibrant photos are also included in the story – but you will have to follow the link to the story because I don’t want to steal the images taken by The Sun News. Overall, it was a very informative piece but also very sad.
When I was younger, I remember driving around with someone in a big city. This certain area had homemade memorials on the side of the road seemingly every couple of miles. When we would pass one, whether it be a white cross or something more elaborate, the driver would say in a more amused than sympathetic tone, “Oh, look, someone must have died.”
It didn’t take me long to realize that these memorials deserved much more respect than that. However, what does this respect look like? To be honest, for the last several years, aside from not mocking them, I don’t think I have really given much thought or reverence when speeding by.
In Strong’s article, some insight is given on how to allow ourselves to take roadside memorials to heart. The Horry County coroner challenges motorists when passing one to reflect on why it is there. Further, the coroner advises, remember that we are all mortal and the same tragedy can happen to us or our family members. It is important to always drive carefully.
Perhaps even more powerful was testimony given by a father still stinging from the motorcycle fatality of his son. He told Strong that the roadside memorial he visits is sacred ground to him because it was the last place his loved one was alive.
I think the concept of “sacred ground” is what we need to keep in mind when we drive by a location where someone has perished. Whenever we enter a church or cemetery, even if it is a church we don’t belong to or a cemetery where a loved one is not buried, we still give it respect. We need to keep this attitude when we pass by roadside memorial sites.
If we challenge ourselves to say a quick prayer for the person or make the sign of the cross when driving by, I think this will at least help us to reflect on the life that was lost. How would we want someone to react if the cross on the side of the road was meant to memorialize one of our loved ones? Don’t Blink.