TEARS flowed freely at the opening of the White Hill Truck Drivers’ Memorial at Murray Bridge on Saturday.
Flags flew at half mast above a crowd estimated to be close to 1000 people, as they paid their respects to 27 truck drivers whose lives were commemorated in one corner of a long wall at the new memorial on Adelaide Road.
Camera-toting crowds lined the streets as two trucking convoys circled Murray Bridge, horns blaring in a highway salute.
For Michael Bates and his family, the weekend was particularly emotional - Saturday’s service fell 364 days after the crash that claimed his father’s life.
“It wasn’t a nice weekend, but it was a good way to spend it,” he said.
“What we got out of it was (the sense that) he’s not forgotten - it’s not just “he died, let’s not talk about it again”.
“They’re remembered and respected.”
He said the memorial would stand as a reminder that truck drivers were a huge part of the community, both as people and through the goods they transported from afar.
Afterwards he was glad to take his five children to the family fun day at the Murray Bridge Racecourse and help them forget, for a time, that their family tree would forever be missing a branch.
Trans-Help Foundation State coordinator and memorial organiser Keith Wood said he had already received enquiries about names to be added to the memorial wall in time for the second annual commemoration next November, which he expected would be even bigger.
“Word has got out to a lot of truck drivers and it should snowball,” he said.
“I think next year it’s going to be twice as big.”