Pondering a Trucker Memorial Day

By Bill Hudgins, columnist

My Downshift column in the May issue of Land Line about a memorial day for truckers set Land Line reader Donald “Driver Don” Pratt of Lansing, Mich., to thinking. “You know we truckers have a lot of windshield time,” he chuckled over the phone as he delivered another load for Meijer Supermarkets. 

I had raised the question of when to have such a day, and I leaned toward March around the time of Mid-America.

Don and a buddy got to wondering which CB 10-codes mentioned death. If there was a relevant code between 1 and 31, maybe the date should be in October – the 10th month.

No such luck. The first code that specifically refers to death on a lot of 10-code lists is 10-79 – “call the coroner.”

“Turns out the 79th day of the year is March 20, and that’s close to the Mid-America Trucking Show. So how about March 20 for the truckers’ memorial day?” Don asks.

That inspired me to brush up on 10-codes. After looking at several different lists, the only other code that might work is 10-42 – “ending tour of duty.” That’s a little … gentler … than 10-79, but falls on Feb. 11, weeks before MATS.

Seriously, I think Don’s onto something – although, wouldn’t ya know it, the 2014 MATS doesn’t start until March 27, a full week after his proposed date.

Here’s a compromise: Though the date of Memorial Day floats, it’s always observed on the last Monday of May. I don’t have any authority to make it official, of course, but I think we should just make the first day of MATS Trucker Memorial Day, regardless of the date.

We could hold the ceremony before the show officially opens. Line up three rigs and hang American flags from their stacks. Instead of firing rifles, sound three “volleys” of airhorns. Maybe one of the exhibitors would sponsor wristbands or something for everyone who’s lost a family member to the road.

What do you think? LL