As you are driving around Montana, have you ever noticed the white crosses alongside the road?  Have you wondered why they are there?

The white roadside crosses along Montana's highways represent a memorial to those killed in highway accidents.

The statewide program was launched by the American Legion back in 1953, and today roughly 134 individual Legion posts continue this program in their prospective areas.

However, there are many areas in Montana that do not have a Legion post, so there are no white crosses for fatalities in those areas.

I noticed the other day that there were five crosses in a cluster, and I thought to myself what a sad stretch of road.

To know that five individuals all lost their lives at this one location.

I have also noticed that some of these crosses have flowers, pictures or even an item of jewelry or something personal on them.

I assumed that it is a memorial to that person that died on that stretch of road.

I was surprised to learn that when the program was introduced in 1953 it was intended to be a highway safety program not a memorial.

Still, many families place wreaths or other decorations on the white crosses, which may be considered a memorial to a loved one lost in an accident.

Many feel that the obstruction of the white marker with these decorations defeats the purpose of the safety program.

The white markers are supposed to serve as a public service message, reminding drivers to "Please Drive Carefully."

They are intended to be a sobering reminder of a fatal traffic accident, a place where a human being lost his or her life.

Since the White Cross Program's inception more than 50 years ago, it is estimated that more than 2,000 fatality markers have been placed along Montana's highways.

To put that number into perspective, it would equal a cemetery of more than 5 acres.

As you are driving around our great city and across our great state and you see some of these white cross makers, please take a few seconds to say a prayer for those who lost their lives and the families they left behind.

Also take a few extra minutes to slow down and drive safely.


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