The Cross: A Controverial Emblem !

First of all, seeing a small white cross along the highway evokes curiosity in me. When I realize that these small memorials mark the spot when someone’s loved one lost their life I feel sympathetic and sorrowful. Although this practice has been underway in some

This is an example of a roadside memorial. It was erected in memory of two loved ones killed at the site.

This is an example of a roadside memorial. It was erected in memory of two loved ones killed at the site.

states and countries for generations, I believe their erection has become more common place, only recently, in PA.

They are becoming numerous enough now that I am no longer startled at seeing them. However, recently I became aware of one of these, a very small one, decorated with a floral wreath, placed just on the edge of our property. Our property extends to Main Road, Sweet Valley, a very rural country road, where traffic has picked up greatly in recent years. Years ago, we used to live right on this road at a spot where a curve in the road was banked improperly and quite frequently speeding vehicles didn’t make it around the curve. At the time, my husband worked night shift and I was home alone with our five, small children. I will never forget the sound of screeching brakes and feeling relieved when they were not followed by a crash. This was not always the case, though, and a number of times someone escaped their overturned car and made their way to my front door. Fortunately, in most cases of a crash, another traveler was soon upon the accident scene, and lent a hand although, sometimes, they required the use of our telephone, or asked for blankets. At times like this, if my husband had been home, he would have jumped at the opportunity to be helpful, but it was frightening to me.

The memorial is placed just beyond the curve that I speak of. (Years ago, the highway

This small memorial is the one I write about.

This small memorial is the one I write about.

department properly banked it, so now there are far less accidents.) It is approximately 300 feet from where we live. It’s been a long time since I am aware of any fatality on or near the site. So I was curious at seeing the shrine erected there. My thoughts began to go wild as I remembered that families also erect them at a scene of violence.  It wasn’t until a number of years ago, while traveling in Greece that we saw such roadside shrines, frequently erected along the roadways and elaborately constructed. Many of them resembling miniature chapels and inside a glass door were items such as flowers, handwritten messages and personal mementos belonging to the deceased. I realized that those who had lost a loved one in such a tragic manner took comfort from knowing that someone is thinking of them every day as they pass by. Actually these shrines serve to remind others to drive carefully and to pray for the families involved.

Each state has its own laws regarding roadside memorials, Many of them are placed on a state’s right of way. In Pennsylvania, roadside memorials technically are not allowed but the displays are tolerated. The origin of roadside crosses in the United States has its roots with early Hispanic settlers of the Southwestern United States and are common in areas with large Hispanic populations. It began in the day when a coffin was carried  to the burial ground and a white cross was erected wherever the coffin was set down.

There is controversy over rather the custom of roadside memorials should continue. There is no question that they are statements of grief and love from the loved ones of the accident victims and also their way of warning others to to drive safely. One man was quoted as saying, “Those shrines surely caught my attention as a teenage driver.” Today, there’s also  controversy over larger crosses dotting our countryside, the cross of Christ,  and there is a  movement to remove them from public view. Some tell us to think of the roadway memorials as a life story that ended on that spot. The cross of Christ, however, represents a life story that did not end there, but instead,  a life given so mankind may live eternally. Why should there be controversy over such a wonderful gift? It bothers some people to see others express their grief along roadways. The cross of Christ reminds people that they must grieve over the sins in their lives and ask for forgiveness. Many would rather not be reminded of this.

8 thoughts on “The Cross: A Controverial Emblem !

  1. There are MANY roadsiide memorials in the area where I live. The roads in NJ are well traveled. We have a large community of Sr. citizens, many new teenage drivers and frequent tourists and vacationers during the summer months. I agree with you, roadside memorials are a reminder of God and they are also a reminder of the seriousness of driving. If even one roadside memorial reminds drivers to slow down and to think of God and even say a little prayer for whomever died at that spot….then it has certainly served a good purpose. (I always say a little prayer for the deceased and their family & friends, when I see these memorials.) I believe that the memorials also help loved ones to grieve, and maybe erecting the memorial is the family’s way of further giving purpose to their deceased loved one’s life… (Remember to think of God, be thankful for the time that you have with family and loved ones…never take life for granted…and drive safely).


    • You made so many good points for the roadside memorials. I agree with you, Colleen. I, too, say a little prayer for the families involved. If more passersby would do that, what a difference that alone could make in people’s lives. Thanks for writing, I appreciate the time you take each week. It’s such an encouragement to me. Merry Christmas.


  2. When my son and I come by an accident we always pray for those involved…for the responders that help…and the families who will be receiving news. We have many of these crosses in my area. One in particular is a young girl who’s car was swept into the creek and drowned. It is a reminder not only that we have lost a member of our community but those that tried to rescue her have been left traumatized. Another is a dear friend of my daughter / like one of my own children. It is a memorial and also a warning of dangerous road. There are always going to be those who protest no matter what the situation. These crosses remind me to pray for people who are grieving and in need of prayer.


    • I appreciate your sensitivity for those who are grieving. Appreciate, too, how you pray at the site of an accident. You have truly experienced losing someone and marking the site of their demise and what it means to you and families involved. Thanks for writing, Karen.


  3. I always feel so sad when I see the crosses along the road. And there are so many. It is interesting to me that even though in this society crosses are often being objected to, in times of sorrow people gravitate to the cross and the Savior that it represents. If only they would all run to Him everyday as well.


  4. Memorial crosses along the roadways certainly are reminders of how our lives and the lives of our loved ones can change in the blink of an eye. They are reminders of how urgent it is to get the gospel message, the message of the cross (the meaning of those very crosses scattered along the roadways) out there to everyone we come in contact with. Matthew 24:42-44 remins us “Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come. But understand this: If the owner of the house had known at what time of night the thief was coming, he would have kept watch and would not have let his house be broken into. So you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him.” People get ready, as no one knows the day, time or circumstance that will translate us into our personal eternity, and I sure have a burden on my heart that you will all find yourself in glory with The Lord forever when your time comes!! In my opinion, the crosses should stay-out of respect for those who have passed as well as a reminder of the larger message of our Lord and Savior’s ultimate sacrifice on our behalf. Love you, sister Shirl!


    • Hi Lisa: How wonderful to hear from you. It is obvious that you have a burden for lost souls, not only in what you write but in all that you do.Your life’s emphasis is getting the Word out. Your reward is coming someday. In the meantime keep, keeping on. Thanks for writing.


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