I was first exposed to roadside memorials in my travels around South America while a member of the USAF Reserve.
I was baffled then and I am baffled now. If I had the extreme misfortune of losing a loved one in a highway accident, the last thing I would want would be a daily reminder of my loss as I drove down the highway.
Take a look around as you travel in Okaloosa County. You will see small crosses, plastic flowers, cheap wreaths and waterlogged teddy bears along the roadside. Too often, weather and time have turned these memorials into piles of litter, meaningful only to loved ones and close friends.
I believe this macabre practice came to us as more and more people from South America immigrated into our country. It exists mainly in California, the southeast and the southwest. The practice is banned altogether in Colorado and Wisconsin. Alabama does not allow these memorials along its interstate highways. Citizens of California must pay the state one thousand dollars for the privilege of placing artificial flowers and stuffed animals along the roadside.
There is a pile of flowers and stuffed animals on Clifford Street where the girl was struck and killed while darting thru traffic several months ago. There is another at Gap Creek and a couple others in Destin. There are several crosses on the east shoulder of Hwy 85 between Niceville and Crestview.
Wouldn’t you just know it? The atheists have reared their head and have begun complaining that crosses on public land constitute an unconstitutional endorsement of Christianity. Give me a break! No matter how you spin their complaint, it is still complete idiocy.
Finally, there is something called the “ghost bicycle.” When a cyclist is killed, an old bicycle is purchased, painted white, and chained to a tree or post near the accident site. There is a ghost bicycle chained onto a post on the north side of Racetrack Road near the Publix supermarket.
I am sorry folks. I just don’t get it. For me and my family we will stick with cemeteries and urns.
Steven Duke is retired from Allstate Insurance Company and currently works as an accident investigator for Fort Walton Beach’s largest law firm. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.