Every time I go into Montgomery, I see Eric...every time I drive up to Maxwell Air Force Base I see Joe and "Momma". Oh, I've never spoken to any of them...but I wonder about them every single time I pass by -- and I wonder how many other people do as well.
I don't know anything about these people yet they touch me...they've even brought me to tears...in fact, I'm crying right now.
"How can some people I've never met and know nothing about bring about such emotion in me?" you might be asking yourself...in fact, it might sound like it makes no sense whatsoever; but to me...and undoubtedly to some others, it does.
You see, I "see" Eric on the median strip of Eastern Boulevard; I assume proudly displaying some type of medal he won. I've never stopped my car to go up close enough to make out what it is...and, again, I've wondered -- about it -- and him. I "see" Joe and "Momma" on the Northern Boulevard, up a couple miles on the right after I merge onto it from Route 231.
I've never really "seen" them...what I see are what many people see every day: Roadside Memorials.
You know, you've seen them (not necessarily Eric, Joe and "Momma", but countless others like them)...roadside testimonials, erected by caring individuals, to signify where their loved ones lost their lives. Sometimes they are well kept up...other times, they fall into a state of disrepair...the cross' paint eroding at the edges and the faded flowers hanging by only a fragile thread; this "fragile thread" is...really all that separates us from their fate.
I've read, years ago, about some states or counties considering banning these markers. "They're too difficult to mow around" and "They're distractions"...were only a couple of the excuses the townships made in their defense...and while I can understand a huge mowing machine trying to delicately negotiate around them, it seems they do. I sense an immense reverence for them -- and for every worker out there who has taken the extra time to meticulously mow around these, I thank you.
There is also debate as to whether these are really distractions or do they, even for a very short while, make drivers take note and slow down...realizing the precious loss of life could easily be their own. A barely audible "There but for the grace of God, go I." mumbled under some passersby's breath -- or do people blindly pass them by...just a blur...a tiny, insignificant billboard they mindlessly catch out the corner of their eye?
I'd like to think they don't. I'd like to think they pause to remember someone they never got the opportunity...to remember.
And to Eric, Joe, "Momma" and all the others I've passed by over the years, I might not ever know you or your stories, but...you are definitely not forgotten.