Before this trip, I’d always hated those roadside memorials that spring up when some innocent gets plowed over by a drunken driver or when someone gets plowed and veers off the road killing semi-innocent passengers.
More often than not, after a short time they seem to serve as reminders that loved ones are quickly forgotten, like wilted flowers. At worst, they serve as a distraction, increasing chances of another accident.
However, two memorials that I observed on my Colorado trip made me reconsider my views. The first of them was this simple cross within a cross
decorated with a Raggedy Ann-like figure holding a sunflower. I think it was the simplicity and child-like innocence of the memorial that struck me. I was almost moved to tears by it (though, in my defense, it may have been the chilly wind dropping off the Colorado Rockies that caused my eyes to tear. ) I’m not even sure I would have seen it if I hadn’t stopped to get a picture of a small herd of deer on the other side of the road.
The other memorial was a state away near the Mexico-New Mexico border. At first glance, it seemed just the opposite of the one I’d seen earlier. It was quite elaborate, so elaborate that even after hours of study and are not sure what all the symbols signify.
This one reminds me of ones I’ve seen it in Indian graveyards, ones I’ve avoided taking pictures of because I thought to do so might offend the Indians whose ancestors were buried there. Since this one was constructed beside the road, I had no such qualms. It seemed obvious that whoever built it wanted others to stop and notice it. This one actually made me want to know more about the person(s) lost and about those who built the monument.
P.S. After returning home, I’ve started noticing roadside memorials again, and, unfortunately, I have reverted to my earlier perception that they’re more annoying than memorable, that it takes a real artist to make them more than a pile of mementos.