The New York Times had an interesting column on grief memorials recently. It referred to the various memorials set up in and around Newtown, Connecticut where the Sandy Hook Elementary School shootings took place. It was about what to do with these memorials after some time passes because weather and the elements will either rot or destroy them, besides you just can't keep these shrines up forever. The column went on to say that the town first gives the grieving families to take what they want and the rest are stored inside or given away to the public.
Even though gun violence in general is down across America, mass murder by firearms has become a semi-frequent tragedy in America. There was just another one outside Bakersfield, California yesterday although this seems to have involved one person and the gun used seems to be a shotgun. As this shooting frenzy continues, the Obama administration is holding meetings with various factions to see what kind of legislation or executive action can be utilized sooner than later to at least try, and curb such violence. Meanwhile, more shootings will take place and more memorials will pop up.
Curbing violence like mass murder as we saw in Connecticut, Colorado (twice now) and other places around America will be a tough road to travel because the NRA still has a stranglehold on too many of those in congress. They have too much power and especially money so they can pull the puppet strings on those elected officials who need cash come campaign time. That Tea Party faction in congress will never budge on gun control legislation since, along with raising taxes, it is one of the, so-called God-given rights that should never be tampered with. They are too kooky to deal with and the only way to try is to get these freaks is vote them out of elected office.
Here in Florida where driving can be dangerous to your health, I've seen numerous memorials on streets and highways where motorists were killed in car accidents. I'm not sure when this grief memorial thing started, but it has been going on for a few decades now, or so it seems. I saw one such shrine at a corner close to where I live. I always mention it to my girlfriend since whoever put it up, keeps it up and going. The weird part is the memorial is at a street corner where it seems unlikely that a car could travel so fast that it could have hit this pole where the shrine is.Maybe the person just dropped dead there-who knows, since a retirement community is across the street. When one puts flowers or stuffed animals on the street corner, just how long can they last? It gets rainy and muggy here in Florida, not good elements for a long-lasting memorial. It's weird though because a few of the streets where I've seen these memorials are locations that just seem impossible to wreck a car so badly that death could occur. It makes you wonder jus how these accidents happen. When you see such a shrine on a highway, it's more understandable.
The locations whee tragedies occur become almost like sacred ground, like a grave. In Northern Kentucky, right across the Ohio River from my hometown of Cincinnati, Ohio, there is such ground that sits on a hill overlooking a vast area. The Beverly Hills Supper Club used to be located there. Over the 1950s, and '60s, it was a hot-spot where major entertainers used to perform. In May, 1977, a horrid fire erupted there and killed over 160 patrons and workers. It was a landmark case because many of the doors were locked (a precursor to the nearby Who tragedy which would take place within a couple of years in Cincinnati), and the material seats and curtains were made out of contributed to the deaths of the many who couldn't make it out. Although this property is valuable, nothing was ever built there. Working for the cable company in that area, I was given access to it once as a proposed developer wanted to meet me there to discuss a proposed project and they would need our service. It was an eerie sight, and that project never materialized. That shrine continues as a sacred piece of ground that seems destined never to be used again. There is a small plaque on-site which is a memorial to that terrible night.
I guess people need to grieve in such a way as to build or place these memorials at locations where tragedy occurs. The memories fade, but usually not for the people whose loved ones perished in the horror. The memorials for murder victims are just the latest homage to those people who, in most cases over the past few decades, had the unfortunate fate of just being in the wrong place at the wrong time. With Columbine, Sandy Hook and that movie theater in Aurora, Colorado, America has simply made it too easy to gun down masses of people because we deemed it okay to allow assault weapons and weapons which can fire off multiple rounds of ammunition. At the very least, our government needs to step up to the plate of logic, and begin to rid our country of all weapons which can mow down people in seconds. Let the extremists yell all they want about the second amendment because most Americans realize our founding fathers did not understand or mean for America to have these type of guns available for any idiot to buy and use. The right-wing is usually the faction which tries to hide behind this "strict-constructionist" idea of interpreting the constitution, and it is insane. Let freedom ring, but let logic scream...louder.