I began volunteering at the Memorial of Perpetual Tears DWI Victims’ Memorial, shortly after my great niece Rachel Amaris Elliott was killed by a drunk driver. The Memorial was nearing completion at the time of her death in February 2008. I had only met Rachel a year and half before her death at a family reunion. I barely new anyone at the reunion, having never been around this side of the family before. Rachel as well as her brother Erik sat for hours with my husband and I just chatting and chatting. She had dreams of being a forensic anthropologist just like “Bones”. I was so impressed with her maturity, her grace and her poise. To spend the better portion of this family reunion with two complete strangers just seems so un-characteristic for such and young and vibrate girl. When I heard of her death, it really struck me hard. I am many miles away from the family, and could not go provide any kind of support to them. I thought maybe it meant something that the Memorial of Perpetual Tears was nearing completion literally at the end of my dirt road. Because I have very little free time, it was difficult at first to figure out what kind of a volunteer I could be. I would not be able to offer them any kind of service that required my presence at the facility on weekdays, which I assumed is when they would probably be operating. I have no expertise on the subject of drinking and driving. I am unable to monetarily support the Memorial. I was not sure what I could offer but I met with the founder of the Memorial anyway. During our discussion I found out that they were trying to come up with a way to tell the victims stories. The founder had some victims’ photographs and a minimum amount of facts about the victim in a notebook in plastic page protectors, she was looking for something more “presentable”. Using my digital scrapbooking knowledge I designed a 12 x 12 page that we could have bound into books.
The Victim Tribute Books are housed in the Memorial and I think their purpose is twofold. First and foremost it serves as a place for honoring and remembering those we loved who were killed or injured by a drunk driver. Secondly, as visitors read these stories, they will be educated on just how dangerous it is to drink and drive. Maybe one or more of these victim stories will touch someone who may choose to call a friend, take a cab, or stay put, the next time they find themselves with a set of car keys in their had after they have been drinking.
Anyone traveling along I-40 through Moriarty, please feel welcome to stop at the Memorial, it is located only yards from the interstate, with easy on and easy off access. If you let me now when you will be dropping by I will be sure to try to meet you there and give you a tour.