LINDON, Utah — New crosses honoring 15 fallen Utah Highway Patrol troopers now overlook I-15 just north of exit 273, taking the place of memorials that were removed from public land following a U.S. Supreme Court decision last year.
The crosses were put in place Tuesday night, bearing the names of troopers killed in the line of duty and the logo the Utah Highway Patrol Association has carried sine the 1950s. One of the earliest names is George Van Wagonen, killed in 1931. The most recent is Aaron Beesley, who died June 30.
Last year, the U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear an appeal from the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals regarding roadside memorials. The ruling prohibited crosses on public land, forcing the UHP Association to take the crosses down.
The association is now in the process of placing the original memorials on private land. The crosses erected near Lindon Tuesday night are newly made, not the original crosses. They were provided by CC Olsen and Sons, which owns the land.
The family behind the donation hopes the memorial will place focus on the fallen troopers, helping passing drivers to remember their sacrifice.
Kevin Wright, president on the UHP Association, said troopers are grateful to the people responsible for the memorials.
"It's a neat sight to see when you come by," Wright said.
The most important part of the memorial is the name that each cross bears, Wright said. He hopes the sight of them inspires a moment of reflection and appreciation from those who pass by.
"I hope they remember the people out there who are working day and night to help them get to where they need to be and be safe," he said. "Just remember, they all have a story and a family they left behind."
Contributing: McKenzie Romero