It has been brought to my attention, and to many others, that in
the last few years there have been several crosses posted in the Snoqualmie
Valley. With the latest one being only two years old, there is now discussion
to take these memorials down.
The people in the Valley have been touched in some way by
Brandon Blount, Dane Rempfer, Stephanie Breeding, David Szczepanik,
Salome Holly, Amanda Baldwin and their mother, Anouchka. All were
devastating tragedies. I feel it is our job to speak out to the community, since
we are the teenagers who were never asked about our feelings on the
Unfortunately, the Department of Transportation has gotten
complaints of traffic distraction because of the
memorials. We, as the kids, students and adults in the
Valley, disagree. These memorials that are posted
in our town are there to remind us to slow down.
They say, “Yes, this can happen to you; it happened to
me.” They’re not to cause another traffic accident or distract others.
After a brief period of time, certain people decided that the
memorials have gotten old and we, as the mourners, need to “deal with it in
some other way.” Well, that has to be the most heartless, inconsiderate
comment I have ever heard come out of a person’s mouth, and I am
fortunate enough to say that I don’t personally know the lady. For the people who
do, I am genuinely sorry, for this is a wicked woman.
We would love to accept our losses completely and just “deal with it,”
but it is hard, especially when these people are the ones we never want to
forget. The memorials are the way we choose to deal with it. Stopping by,
honking as we drive by or blowing kisses is our way of recognizing these
young adults. However we choose to “deal with it” should be our own
business. Everyone deals with death differently, going through each step and
eventually healing. Maybe it is time for the complainers to “just deal with it.”
If we want to hang balloons, or light candles while we visit our loved
ones, that should be our own business too.
Try putting yourselves in our shoes, as kids who are trying to
become adults. As a student last year at Mount Si High, it was a horrible
year. After Dane died, it was like dominos, wondering Monday on the way
to school if anyone had been seriously hurt or killed over the weekend that
I hadn’t heard about. Not knowing what you were about to walk into that
morning, from kids screaming, to tears everywhere you looked – whether
from students or teachers – is not how you want to remember your senior
year, or any year for that matter.
I think I speak for most of the students and staff when I say that
without each other, we may never have gotten through it. By sticking
together, in counseling groups or meetings in the library, or just sitting in the
commons reminiscing with friends about how that person made you laugh.
You knew from there that eventually everything would be okay through
these times, because we were all understanding of each other’s feelings
and going through the nightmares together – sometimes having the same
nightmare five or six different times.
Each one of us was having a different way of grieving, accepting
and trying to move on, although no one just moves on. Every day is still a
struggle for me.
No one will ever completely be okay with what has happened. It
was something no one needs to go through, especially losing someone
that touched you so tremendously. A piece of your heart was left with them.
By the end of the year, with so many different deaths from different groups
of kids, we were all touched, hurt and upset. Being at school with the
people who understood the most is what helped. It felt as though no one
Now, why the Department of Transportation is trying desperately
to rearrange things and move memorials or take them away completely is
beyond me. Of course, residents are going to complain. Brandon
Blount’s memorial is not a traffic distraction. That is only an excuse to have
the memorial taken down, since those residents have been conniving a way
for its removal for the past two years. These memorials have been up for
a while with no traffic accidents.
Is it because friends and family still give the memorials attention? Is
that what is so bothersome? If people don’t want to see them, look straight
ahead or go another direction. If you talk about being annoyed or sick of
this, how do you think we kids feel? Every time the subject is brought up or
some non-understanding person complains, the horror and the pain arise, and
it becomes a battle all over again. These kids died either from their own
mistakes or someone else’s, so let them rest in peace.
We won’t watch these [memorials] be taken down without our voices
being heard. Right now the action is being brought on by Brandon
Blount’s memorial, but it is going to start a chain reaction. Next it will be
David Szczepanik’s, because he has a football banner and a helmet.
Following that will be Dane’s, because God only knows what people [will] find to
I wish so much that the adults in this community were as
understanding as our parents, students and staff in this district. These complainers
have already caused us pain, and no one has stopped to think about the families
of these kids. Finally they feel the comfort of their loved one’s
presence through these memorials, and accept what has changed their lives and
the lives of the friends of the deceased.
As far as not wanting to face reality or see the memorials, no one
does. We would much rather have that person with us today, in a heartbeat,
but we can’t. We “deal with” the fact
that our memories and the memorials are there for friends and family, to
remember each one in our own special way.
So please, reconsider, and let us live a life that they didn’t get a chance to.
Nicole Korsmo is a North Bend resident and 1999 graduate of
Mount Si High.