The World Day of Remembrance Wall at Union Station brought neighbors together

One of the panels of the Remembrance Wall

In the week leading up to World Day of Remembrance, visitors left written tributes, photos, poems, flowers, and candles on an interactive Remembrance Wall, reflecting upon traffic violence and urging the adoption of proven solutions to stop it.

The Remembrance Wall—which marked the first collaboration between DC Families for Safe Streets and the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments (MWCOG) Street Smart Program—was located at the main hall of the historic Union Station, a transportation hub located in the heart of the nation’s capital.

About World Day of Remembrance

World Day of Remembrance for Road Traffic Victims is an international event started in 2005. It honors the 1.35 million people killed and millions more injured on the world’s roads each year and urges the implementation of proven strategies to prevent more tragedies. This year’s World Day of Remembrance on November 21, 2021 took on extra urgency as the number of people dying and severely injured in preventable traffic crashes in the U.S. is rising at an alarming rate:

  • Preliminary data from the federal government revealed that more than 20,160 people died on U.S. roads in the first half of 2021—the largest number of estimated fatalities in that time period since 2006.
  • Data from MWCOG notes that 314 individuals have been killed and many more injured in the Greater Washington Region in 2020.
  • Washington, DC experienced its 37th traffic fatality of 2021 on the Saturday leading up to the event—the same total number of fatalities as 2020, and the largest since 2008.

Global leaders seized the opportunity to marshal the resources, will, and partnerships needed to sustain commitments required for positive change. U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg acknowledged the urgency of this issue as the number of people dying and severely injured in preventable traffic crashes on our roadways continues to rise. “A single preventable death is a tragedy,” Secretary Buttigieg said in his recorded remarks. “Tens of thousands of them a year is a national crisis—one that demands not just our remembrance but our urgent action. So on this World Day of Remembrance, let’s renew our commitment to protect every member of the traveling public.”

The Remembrance Wall at Union Station

Time lapse of the Remembrance Wall’s front panels.

The Remembrance Wall featured artwork by Chelsea Ritter-Soronen of Chalk Riot and invited visitors throughout the week to honor loved ones, commemorate a crash, thank a first responder who helped in the immediate aftermath of a crash, and share hopes for safe streets. All were welcome to participate regardless of when, where, or how a particular crash occurred.

What emerged by Sunday afternoon was a poignant and powerful visual depiction of the depth of love and loss reverberating through the Greater Washington community. Families contributed photographs and heartfelt notes to their mothers, brothers, children, partners, and friends. Survivors and loved ones wrote notes and poems to commemorate their own experiences grappling with post-crash trauma and recovery.

Click through this Twitter thread or Flickr album to see in detail the written tributes, photos, poems, flowers, and candles contributed by the community.
The Washington Post Metro Section on Sat Nov 20

Several public officials shared their visits to the Remembrance Wall, including Jennifer Homendy the Chair of the National Transportation Safety Board; Christina Henderson, At-Large DC Councilmember; and Everett Lott, Acting Director of the District Department of Transportation. The event was covered by media outlets, including WUSA 9 and the Washington Post.

DC Families for Safe Streets is a sponsored project of the Washington Area Bicyclist Association. DC-FSS, its partners, and chapters across the country work to transform pain into purpose through peer support and solutions-focused advocacy to stop the preventable public health crisis wrought by traffic crashes. Each year, World Day of Remembrance offers an opportunity to galvanize energy and attention to support action at every level.

Learn more on how to get involved and share your story with DC-FSS.

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