Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Hyper-Detailed Memorial Highway Signs

What's the deal with naming every single feature of every single highway after a fallen soldier or first responder? That's frustrating enough as it is, but given that we are going to do this, can we at least not use 30 words to do it?

First, why this is frustrating: in a post-God world, people insist on recognition by all of humanity to replace the recognition we used to believe we would receive from God. I've named this "anthrotheism" and I've written before about this here. Once I worked in an office where a co-worker's father died. The rest of us signed a condolence card. One of the men in my office wrote something about how "you'll have your memories" as the thing that lessens Death's blow. It came to me then just how bleak the atheistic view is. Really? A unique existence just ended and the ONLY saving grace is that some of us remember it? What happens when the remembering ones have died? Thus is born the drive to achieve celebrity. And so when a loved one dies in the line of duty, we want a highway sign so thousands of people every day will read his name.

Second, why we're doing it wrong: highway signs are supposed to convey needed information. There is a cost associated with each sign as it distracts the driver who must read it. There are some bits of information that would be nice to have but which aren't important enough to merit the added distraction they would cause. Many memorial highway signs, however, include the person's full name, his rank, and his unit. So instead of a sign marking the, say, Davis Memorial Bridge, there's a sign marking the San Bernardino County Sheriff's Sgt. Adam Francis Davis Memorial Bridge. It takes longer for the driver to process the information, which makes the highway less safe.

The first issue leads to the second. If I'm Sgt. Davis's family, and I need all humanity to think of my son because that's the only way he continues to exist, then Davis Memorial Bridge doesn't cut it. There are lots of Davises in the world. It's the seventh-most common surname in the United States. A sign that makes you think of a generic "Davis" doesn't keep my son's memory alive in a post-God world. So I need the sign to be as specific as possible. If there was a way of including his picture, I'd want the sign to do that (and I bet somewhere in America, such a thing exists).

The end of every life is a tragedy. But what we've forgotten is that death is not the end of life, nor is the gradual assumption of anonymity of past generations. God remembers our dead, so we don't need to make everyone on the highway do it for us.

1 comment:

Stephen Harkleroad said...
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