Tag Archives: highway signs

Highway memorials: What are their stories?

TULSA, Okla. — As my wife and I have trekked across the western half of the United States I am struck by something I have seen all along the way.

Many sections of interstate and intrastate highways have signs honoring individuals’ memories. They usually are police officers or state troopers or are military men and women.

We settled into this city for a couple of nights after traveling along a stretch of U.S. 169 that contained in the span of about five or six miles four signs identifying four individuals after whom the highway is named.

I see the signs and wonder: What are the stories behind these people? Why do states or local governments choose to honor them? What did they do to earn this eternal memorial?

Hey, I am just a curious American motorist who wants to know things such as this.

This country has turned an important corner over the past two or three decades in honoring the men and women who serve in our nation’s military, as well as those who suit up to protect and serve as members of our law enforcement network.

Why not erect historical plaques near the signs identifying these individuals that would explain to motorists who would be interested to stop and read them just why the highway carries an individual’s name?

Texas does a wonderful job of placing historical markers along its tens of thousands of miles of highway. It doesn’t explain to motorists why some stretches of highways carry signs honoring the memories of law enforcement and military personnel.

Our nation was built by heroes. I suspect all the individuals whose names are on those signs have committed acts of heroism that cost them their lives.

I would like to know their stories.

Wondering about bilingual signage

MEDICINE HAT, Alberta — It was somewhere east of Kamloops, British Columbia, when I noticed them: Highway signs began appearing with text written in English and French.

West of there it was all English.

I haven’t spent a lot of time in Canada. I went to British Columbia briefly in 1980 and made the acquaintance of some rough-and-tumble loggers who greeted me as I sought to learn about the circumstances of my father’s death in a boating accident.

I noticed then that the signage was in two languages. The loggers didn’t like it. Indeed, they didn’t think much of their countrymen and women of French ancestry … and they made their feelings clear.

But I digress.

On this journey through the western half of Canada, my wife and I took note of the appearance of the twin-language signage.

They don’t bother me in the least. Then again, I am just a visitor from the States. However, this linguistic oddity does make me wonder: When do you suppose some of our states are going to enact laws requiring twin-language highway signs. You know what I mean: signs in English and in Spanish.

Texas, where my family and I have lived for 35 years, contains a heavily Latino minority. Latinos comprise the second largest ethnic group in the state — and their percentage is overtaking the Anglo majority.

I don’t know when Texas will become a Latino-majority state. I do believe it will occur eventually, likely after I have checked out permanently.

Does this mean the state, along with other states around the country — particularly those that border Mexico — will be forced to follow the trail blazed in Canada, which decided some time back to accommodate its French-speaking minority?

It makes perfect sense to me.

I am aware that such a thing, were it to become a reality, likely won’t go over well with many Americans. Some of us think English should be the nation’s “official language.” I disagree with that notion.

However, as I have noted already, I likely won’t be around to engage in that brouhaha were it to erupt.

It could be worse, you know. A decade ago I spent a month in Israel, where I noticed that in the much of that country the highway signage was in English, Hebrew … and Arabic. 

That’s an eyeful, man!