Roadside Memorials

by J-Touchette

Many people believe that roadside memorials are a distraction and, therefore, dangerous to the motoring public.

Motor vehicle accidents are not uncommon, and so the use of roadside memorials is on the rise to remember those who have died. But these memorial crosses haven’t always been used to remember where people died, or how they died.

The crosses take their origins from Hispanic culture of southwestern North America, where the roadside monuments are sometimes referred to as descansos, meaning resting places. Traditionally these memorials were put up in places where the funeral procession stopped between the church and the cemetery.

The stops the procession made were because the pallbearers would become tired from carrying the deceased the whole way. When necessary they would stop and put the coffin on the ground so the men could rest. The priest and the mourning women would take time to remember and honor the dead, sometimes planting flowers or trees, or tying two twigs together with a leather thong to make a cross.

Rested, the men would continue the procession until they needed again. These descansos would become regular resting spots from the church to the cemetery with time.

Read more:

Descansos – Roadside Memorials on the American Highway: a Photographic exploration

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