Well, this is the longest I have gone without updating my blog. Sorry folks. It has been that kind of week and after all of that — the blog site had issues today and I just found I could get back in to my site.
The most important thing that filled my week happened Friday afternoon late. My brother, who has a career in law enforcement, was riding a part-time gig as a funeral escort. He as well as many other officers do this on their own time as a part-time job to earn extra income. They have to do this because we as a society refuse to pay them a wage that fairly compensates them for the work they do.
The procession had about 90 vehicles in it. If you have never been involved with a funeral processions with motorcycle escorts, this is how it works. The escorts ride in the front until they encounter a cross street. Then on blocks the intersection while the other continues to lead the procession. When the last car passes through the intersection, the motor escort then rides up the center line of the road back to the front of the procession and it all starts again.
As it happened on this day, a young driver was leaving the Department of Driver Services parking lot, crossed through the line of cars in the procession, made a left turn — and thereby cut off my brother’s lane of travel causing him to strike his vehicle and crash. His motorcycle has significant damage and will be expensive to repair. My brother on the other hand, has a broken left ankle, broken right hand, broken right collar-bone, broken rib in the back, a concussion and will need surgery to stabilize his hand and ankle.
He is very fortunate to be alive. If the procession travels at, say 45 mph, he has to ride at 55-65 mph to get from back to front quickly. His motorcycle is fully equipped with many lights and siren. He is very hard not to see. And even if the driver did not see him — and this is my real gripe — he crossed a funeral procession.
I had the privilege of celebrating the life of a man who attended my church who died in a private plane crash last week. I was amazed at the number of people who felt they were too busy, too important, too….something to pull over in respect for the dead as the procession moved along. And it really gets me because it is Georgia State Law.
Looking this up on the internet I find this information:
Georgia Code – Motor Vehicles & Traffic – Title 40, Section 40-6-76
(a) As used in this Code section, a ‘funeral procession’ means an array of motor vehicles in which the lead vehicle displays a sign, pennant, flag, or other insignia furnished by a funeral home indicating a funeral procession unless led by a state or local law enforcement vehicle and each vehicle participating in the funeral procession is operating its headlights.
(b) Funeral processions shall have the right of way at intersections subject to the following conditions and exceptions:
(1) Operators of vehicles in a funeral procession shall yield the right of way upon the approach of an authorized emergency vehicle or law enforcement vehicle giving an audible and visual signal; and
(2) Operators of vehicles in a funeral procession shall yield the right of way when directed to do so by a traffic officer.
(c) Funeral processions escorted by the police, a sheriff, or a sheriff´s deputy shall have the right of way in any street or highway through which they may pass. Local governments may, by ordinance, provide for such escort service and provide for the imposition of reasonable fees to defray the cost of such service.
(d) The operator of a vehicle not in a funeral procession shall not interrupt a funeral procession except when authorized to do so by a traffic officer or when such vehicle is an authorized emergency vehicle or law enforcement vehicle giving an audible and visual signal.
(e) Operators of vehicles not a part of a funeral procession shall not join a funeral procession by operating their headlights for the purpose of securing the right of way granted by this Code section to funeral processions.
(f) The operator of a vehicle not in a funeral procession shall not attempt to pass vehicles in a funeral procession on a two-lane highway.
(g) Any person violating subsection (d), (e), or (f) of this Code section shall be guilty of a misdemeanor and, upon conviction thereof, shall be punished by a fine not to exceed $100.00.
(h) Any law enforcement officer who is directing or escorting a funeral procession in this state, whether such service is provided while on duty or not, shall enjoy the same immunities from liability as the officer possesses while in the performance of other official duties.
So if one reads this carefully, you find in section D that you cannot interrupt (cross through in any direction) a funeral procession. And then while in a procession myself, I noticed a truck pull past part of the procession, drop into a gap and use it to ride through a red light. And my only response was: Are you kidding me! Has he not heard of section E of this law?
If we are supposed to be knowledgable of GA Laws to drive on the roads, how is it we don’t seem to remember that you must stop and move to the shoulder of the road to let a funeral pass? Even on a divided highway? And you certainly do not overtake a funeral on a 2 lane road.
And this brings me to my thought for tonight. The answer to this whole thing is not that we don’t know — it’s that we don’t think it applies to us. It is fine and well for others, but I am too important, my schedule is too critical, my needs are more necessary. And we manage to get away with it so much that we start to feel entitled to ignoring the law. I mean, on I-285 this week I was riding 10 miles an hour over the speed limit and I was the slowest vehicle on the road from I-75 to I-85. Does the speed limit not apply? Or does it only matter when I see a law enforcement officer running speed detection? (I know, I just said I was over the limit. But I don’t fuss when I get stopped either. And I am trying to do better.)
This is why, in a world that is producing far more food than every man, woman, and child living today can eat — each and every day — that people are starving to death and dying of hunger related issues. I mean, have you ever eaten 4.3 pounds of food in a day? I have often wondered since I learned this fact what that much food looks like. I will share a photo of that one day here in this blog.
As John Mattox, pastor of Pleasant Grove UMC in LaGrange stated during our 11Alive interview (and I am very loosely quoting him): Most folks see the problem and it overwhelms them and they just throw up their hands in surrender. And yet, through Stop Hunger Now, making a difference is not only possible, it is achievable. For only 25 cents per meal you can provide a nutritious meal to children all around the world. For the price of a can of your favorite soda ($1.50) you can provide 6 meals. For the cost of a grilled cheese & fried green tomatoes with drink and generous tip at The Redneck Gourmet in Senoia or Newnan you can provide 60 meals. You see, it adds up quickly. And you CAN do it.
Our 4 preachers who are fasting during the season of Lent, and I am one of those, invite you to make a difference. We invite you to make a donation today at: www.stophungernow.org/4for40. The 4 of us are fasting for 40 days.
The traffic laws apply to everyone. And the ability to have enough food to eat should apply to everyone as well. So let’s stop for funeral processions and show our respect to family who is dealing with the loss of a loved one, and let’s contribute from our abundance to a food program that will help us make a difference in the world. Starvation is preventable. Hunger is stoppable. If we choose to Stop Hunger. Now.
Until the next time….The Hog Father