Recently I was driving north on Ardmore Avenue. when a funeral procession approached from the south. I was pleasantly surprised and gratified when the cars and trucks ahead of me all pulled to the side of the road as the funeral procession passed.
Although it isn’t always a legal requirement for traffic to pull over to allow a procession to pass, it is the most respectful thing we can do — whether it’s going in the same direction or oncoming. Most funeral processions are only about 20 cars long, so the length of time required for it to pass isn’t going to make a huge difference in our day. The small gesture of pulling over can mean a lot to the family. And when the time comes for us to be in a procession of a loved one, we’ll appreciate when other drivers do the same.
Funeral processions have long been a way to exhibit honor and grief at the passing of a loved one. And because so many funeral homes are located some distance from the cemetery, it’s not uncommon for a procession to travel for a few miles. In these instances, it’s important to follow a few key etiquette guidelines when encountering a funeral procession.
The law gives funeral processions the right-of-way at intersections when headlights are lit. In Indiana, the lead vehicle must have alternatively flashing red and blue lights, and comply with stop signs and traffic lights. But once it has done so, all the following vehicles can proceed without stopping, provided they exercise due caution. Also, the procession must yield to an approaching emergency vehicle or when directed by a police officer. Vehicles not in the procession cannot enter it unless directed by a police officer and other vehicles cannot join the procession and turn on their headlights in order to gain the right-of-way granted to the procession.
And while we’re on the subject of honoring the deceased, Memorial Day is fast approaching. This American holiday is observed on the last Monday in May. But Memorial Day is more than just a three-day weekend marking the unofficial start of summer. It’s actually been an official national holiday for more than 40 years aimed at remembering and honoring those who died while serving in the armed forces. Originally known as Decoration Day, it originated in the years following the Civil War and became an official federal holiday in 1971. Many Americans observe Memorial Day by visiting cemeteries or memorials, holding family gatherings and participating in parades.
And did you know a “National Moment of Remembrance” resolution was passed in December 2000 which asks that at 3 p.m. local time, all Americans “voluntarily and informally observe in their own way a moment of remembrance and respect, pausing from whatever they are doing for a moment of silence or listening to ‘Taps.’”