Respect for The Dead

I attended the funeral of my cousin a while back. It was held at a small Baptist church in the middle of farming country here in the rural part of Florida. As the funeral procession drove from the church to the cemetery, I would estimate that about 1 out of every 3 or 4 vehicles pulled to the side of the road and stopped out of respect.

This used to be the standard response to seeing a funeral procession, but it is rapidly becoming a thing of the past. Part of the reason is that with the steady increase of urban and suburban sprawl, it is often simply not safe to stop at the side of the road. Stopping where it would create a hazard is not showing respect for the dead – it is showing disrespect for the living. I really believe that the number of people doing this as a sign of respect would greatly increase if they only knew about it. I know that I have been guilty of not stopping for a funeral procession before I really became aware of this, so I’m not really faulting those that didn’t stop. It is no longer common knowledge. We need to try to make it so.

About Stephen Clay McGehee

Born-Again Christian, Grandfather, husband, business owner, Southerner, aspiring Southern Gentleman. Publisher of The Confederate Colonel and The Southern Agrarian blogs. President/Owner of Adjutant Workshop, Inc., Vice President - Gather The Fragments Bible Mission, Inc. (Sierra Leone, West Africa), Webmaster - Military Order of The Stars and Bars, Kentucky Colonel.
This entry was posted in Manners, Traditions, and Etiquette and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Respect for The Dead

  1. Tyler Brock says:

    I had a similar experience last year when my Great Uncle passed away. We were in Okeechobee and it was the first time I had ever seen cars pull off to the side of the road for a funeral procession. Almost every car pulled over as we passed by. I pointed out to my dad, “Look at how the cars are pulling off the side of the road for us.” He smiled at me and said, “Well, down here it’s common courtesy; you rarely see it nowadays because people are in too big of a hurry.”

    That simple gesture had such an impact on me. I thought it showed reverence, honor and humility. Their actions embraced what it means to be a gentleman or lady. Our actions speak volumes, whether the deed is large or small. Okeechobee is a place that has earned my respect because a few people went out of their way to respect me and my family. That type of reciprocating effect is what makes Southern culture so special and why we must continue to fight to preserve it.

  2. Jenny says:

    I’m from Kentucky and the custom still lives there. In town, the police stop the traffic to keep the funeral procession together and the cars on the other side of the road stop.

    I have yet to witness a procession or participate in one out west, so I can’t speak for Colorado.

  3. Lady Val says:

    Sadly, in New York – or at least the city environs and out onto Long Island, if you stop for a funeral, you’d cause a major accident. Most of the funeral processions use the big roads but even on smaller roads, traffic will not permit such niceties.

  4. Anonymous age 68 says:

    It is a nice touch, when it is appropriate. When population was smaller and the economy more local and deaths less common, and not so much long distance travel, it was an easy gesture, and as noted in some communities it still is feasible.

    As Lady Val says, it may not always be feasible. It isn’t bad manners. It’s just not feasible.

    Several years ago, we left McAllen early on our way to Illinois, a long two day drive. North of Falfurrias on Hwy 281 is a four lane divided highway. It is the only usable highway north from the Valley, thus heavily traveled, and the speed limit once out of city limits is 70 mph.

    There was a funeral procession in the left lane, apparently going to a cemetery maybe 15 miles north. They were driving at funeral speeds, maybe 25 mph.

    A truck pulled up in the right lane, behind the last car in the funeral procession, and stayed there. All north bound traffic, and there was a lot of it, was blocked behind him.

    I am sure he thought he was some superior kind of person showing that respect for the dead. He wasn’t. He cost a lot of people nearly half an hour and frankly it was neither his business nor his right to do so.

    His conduct was not appropriate at all.

    If someone wants that sort of respect, one must give it, and to block interstate travelers half an hour for the funeral of someone they don’t know is not respectful. Keep those processions on side roads.

Comments are closed.