Maintaining the Memories of the Passed
Loss is hardly rare in modern society. Car crashes, explosions and shootings all seem to be normal these days. However, the death people face is not on the high speed roadways, or in the fire or the bullets. It is when people begin to forget the ones who have passed that they truly die.
Senior Brian Stockton was 18. He loved to write poems and play his guitar; his favorite bands included Pink Floyd, Oasis and Pearl Jam. He also loved his girlfriend, who he was able to take to Prom before he died. He had hopes of going into the Navy to do electrical work, not to fight. However, on July 2, 1996, after a car crash, he died of his injuries.
Stockton was driving his Jeep on County Line Road and he missed a sharp curve. His car went across a ditch and rolled several times. The car’s hardtop was ripped off and Stockton, not wearing a seatbelt, was thrown from the car.
Becky Miller was 16. She was an active student on the volleyball, basketball, and softball teams. She had a bright sports career in front of her. However, on November 29, 1989, she died of her injuries after a car crash.
Miller was driving on the highway when she crossed the median. She was met head on by a minivan, and crashed.
At the times of their deaths, students set up two plaques in the front of the school. A third was installed for other students who passed since that time. While this was a loving gesture in the memory of these two students, years later the memorials were getting noticeably under-maintained. But Seniors Makenzie Taylor and Anissa Foster changed that.
“I didn’t know anything about the monuments. I had seen one and I was like, ‘Oh, that’s kind of messed up,” Taylor said, “because every time we would come by the busses, it would be ruined, and that kind of sat in me.”
The beginning of this loving service did not start with a protest but in a much simpler way.
“Me and Anissa went in to the office and were like, ‘Hey, can we go fix that?” Taylor said.
Makenzie and Anissa went out one day with some basic cleaning supplies and did their best to restore the plaques to their former glory.
“We bought yellow ribbon and tied them to the trees of the monuments, and we took out soapy water and rags and cleaned up the monuments to make them look nicer,” Foster said.
The act was much less about maintenance and much more about showing basic respect for the dead.
“Just because someone isn’t alive anymore, just because you don’t know them doesn’t mean it’s a bad thing to still respect them and still watch over their stuff,” Taylor said. “I know if I died, or if someone else I loved died, I would want someone to look after my stuff, to keep it tidy and be respectful of it.”
The two students are hoping to inspire other students to do the same thing when they leave the high school.
“I would definitely want this to continue. Students should go out there and maintain the monuments to keep them nice and clean, and I definitely don’t want people to forget what happened at the monuments or why the monuments are there,” Foster said. “I think that if we remember what happened here, it will help a lot of our students from here to on into the future.”