DEAR ABBY: I was a little disappointed in your reply to "M.H. in L.A." (June 22) regarding roadside memorials. I know you feel they are a gesture of respect, but really, there's a time and place for everything. Memorials belong in cemeteries, not on our roadways.
My dear father was run over by a truck and killed. I would never dream of putting up a cross as a reminder of the place where he died. That was done at the cemetery the day we laid him to rest.
We need to celebrate life, not death. By creating roadside memorials we solidify the place of death, not the life the individual had. Also, the memorial becomes a constant reminder to first responders who must pass by that place every day. I have worked with a crisis response team in my county and was told by a 19-year-old firefighter who couldn't sleep that it was because of the body parts they had to pick up from the roadway. Why have visual reminders on the road to remind everyone of the worst day instead of the best days of the individual's life?
— SEEN AND HEARD TOO MUCH
DEAR SEEN AND HEARD: Readers were divided on this issue. Some find the memorials to be comforting. Read on:
DEAR ABBY: I live in Japan, and often when people die, a small statue or flowers will be placed in their memory. It serves a twofold purpose. First, to remind others how lucky they are to have loved ones, and second, it serves as a warning to others to beware of hazards.
— AMERICAN IN JAPAN
DEAR ABBY: Please allow me to comment to "M.H. in L.A." There may not be a cemetery in which to pay your respects because some victims are cremated. Placement of the roadside memorial often reflects where the loved one spent his or her final moments. It is calming to go to the place where our loved one transitioned. I hope "M.H." will never have to encounter this sad experience.
— JUST A MOM
DEAR ABBY: I agree with "M.H." I think roadside memorials are overdone and unnecessary. If you wish to honor someone's memory, look into the adopt-a-highway program and put the person's name up for motorists to see.
— KANSAS CITY READER
DEAR ABBY: I felt the same as "M.H. in L.A." — until 2004, when a dear friend of mine was killed by a drunk driver. Kit was a Boy Scouts of America professional on his way to do his duty for the youth of South Dakota. Kit was killed instantly, but his legacy lives on in the hearts of thousands of youths and adults who miss him to this day.
Every time I drive past his highway marker I wave to him and recite the Scout Oath, "On My Honor ..."
— GRIEVING RETIRED SCOUT EXECUTIVE
DEAR ABBY: You are absolutely correct that these spontaneous tributes can distract passing motorists. They are often on a dangerous part of the roadway that precipitated the fatality, and people stopping to place flowers and other tributes can lead to further fatalities. Better to do your grieving in a cemetery, lest you wind up a permanent resident in one yourself — or worse, cause some other motorist to suffer the same fate.
— J.K., COLUMBIA, S.C.
Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Write Dear Abby at www.DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.