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How many Roadside Memorials on This Road?Roadside Memorials

Roadside Memorials are symbolic shrines placed at locations where someone has died. As well as commemorating the dead, roadside memorials also help to warn motorists that a fatality has occurred nearby, and so they tend to drive more carefully in that vicinity. This improves road safety by improving care, rather than having the false emphasis on speed and punishment by a feared overbearing authoritarian system.

A few people don't like roadside memorials because they appear untidy, but really it's up to different people to express their own feelings. The road is owned by the public, and it's up to folks if they want to commemorate someone. This "live and let live" (even if it means having memorials to the dead), is something which is regarded as contentious, and yet, people put up with advertising that's much more distracting!

The Authoritarian Big Brother Establishment HATES roadside memorials. The authority desecrates people's shrines, and has sets of rules that apply strict guidelines on personal grief. This is wrong, of course, and it can escalate into a situation where the authority is at war with the people who suffer and live under its rule. Despite the tyranny of government, however, there is nothing that the Establishment can do to banish public roadside memorials. Regardless of the law, people WILL commemorate their dead!

As with many of these things, it's best if there is a sensible compromise by which there is understanding by all. As a set of guidelines, the following is quite good:

* When setting up a roadside memorial, it's best done in a location close to where the person died, not on the exact spot. For example, if the death occurred in the middle of the road, the shine should be at the side of the road, not in the middle.

* The memorial should be allowed to develop freely and to be as big as need be, and as permanent as need be, for the needs of all that wish to remember the deceased.

* The memorial can be as big and as outlandish as is desired, but should not be a danger to others. Mourners should not put other people's lives at risk, partly because it's wrong, but also because if another person died because of a roadside memorial then there could end up being secondary roadside memorials and further tragic problems.

* Roadside memorials are not a promotion of religion. Even if symbols of various conventional religions are used, this should not be considered to be offensive or to be a religion-pushing method. The fact is, the memorials are there to commemorate the dead, not some arbitrary deity.

* Authorities that wish to be considered at least halfway reasonable rather than at war with the people should encourage the development of memorials towards ways that are socially acceptable, for example moving on from lamp-posts with flowers and teddy-bears tied to them, to park benches with plaques and various tributes around them, set a sensible distance away the road.

* It is acceptable for friends and relatives of the deceased to celebrate their birthday at the memorial, complete with candles on a cake. This may seem odd, but it does no harm.

* Ghost Bikes are appropriate especially if the deceased died as a cyclist in a road accident. Ghost Bikes are bicycles painted white and attached to the street scenery. They are sacred shrines and should not be disturbed. See www.ghostbikes.org . Note that any authoritarian government desecrating a ghost bike may find public outcry in the form of dozens of additional ghost bikes added to the region's lamp posts. Honestly, it's not worth going against folks if they want to put up ghost bikes or other roadside memorials. The existence of ghost bikes in a locality is a warning to motorists to be careful not to mow down any more cyclists in that vicinity. It is a contribution to road safety and can save lives. The Establishment may have a fear of White Bicycles, but there is a practical difference between a ghost bike (a non-functional relic of a bike, painted white and chained to the scenery), and an Anarchist White Bicycle which is a fully functional free for public use bicycle, like a cyclistic variation of the Free Linux operating system.

Yes, it is true that roadside memorials are morbid, but so is a graveyard. It's best to have a reasonably Gothic attitude to this, rather than trying to be in denial about Death. If you want to eliminate roadside memorials, and memorials to the dead generally, the way to do this is to eliminate Death. It's absurd that people have to die anyway. There's something wrong with the reality.

Meanwhile, while there is still a reality in which people are mortal and can end up dead, it's best that they be remembered rather than forgotten. Hence, memorials.

Graveyards are good. They are natural parks in which wildlife flourishes. Peaceful, thoughtful places. They are also good ecologically, a lasting contribution to the regeneration of the atmosphere.

Commemorating the dead also occurs on November 11th, the Day of Armistice, when people who died in war are remembered. The day of remembrance is made world-famous by the British Legion, who have made a big memorable thing of it with the Poppy Campaign. Note that this is not a glorification of war, any more than roadside memorials are a glorification of dangerous driving. It's The Dead who are being commemorated. Long Live The Dead! Or, oh well, at least, Long Live their remembrance!

Another thing is that spontaneous impromptu memorials can be created at any locations, particularly where someone has died. This might make going into hospital a bit uncanny, as you'd be sleeping in a hospital bed that had numerous teddy-bears tied to the legs, and when you went into the operating theatre it would be amazing to view, above the operating theatre lamps, the vast arrays of floral tributes and votive offerings to the spirits of the many people who had died on that operating theatre table. The surgeons probably wouldn't mind, provided the memorials were kept surgically clean, as death on an operating theatre table is part of the everyday routine work in a hospital. Over the years, the deaths add up. If you could see for yourself the death toll in hospitals, it would be interesting, wouldn't it. Of course you've have to be philosophical about it and not assume that just because many people had died there, you were likely to die.

My grandma died in a restaurant. It wasn't the restaurant's fault. She was 90 years old and was getting a bit mixed-up. However, commemorating the location of the death by visiting the restaurant and placing flowers in the vase on the table might be interesting. There might already be flowers there. How about that? Dying at a location which is already destined to have flowers?!

When I die, (which I intend to do, but not just yet), I would like to be frozen in liquid nitrogen. If you visit my "grave", it's best not to put flowers IN the liquid nitrogen, as they will shatter!