In Greenville, as in many cities and towns across the South, traffic on the busiest street in town will come to a standstill as the funeral procession winds its way through the streets. Leading the way of this procession is almost always a police officer in the marked patrol car, with blue lights flashing.
The funeral escort is a time-honored tradition in this area of the country. As the long line of cars slowly moves toward the gravesite, other drivers still pull to the side of the road, either to pay their respects or because its a such an ingrained custom. Occasionally a driver will continue along the road passing stopped cars off to the side and ignoring the stares of disapproval, but that is still rare for now.
Some cities are discontinuing this service, citing safety, staffing, and the liability concerns of a slow-moving parade that takes the right-of-way. Funeral processions seem to be driving up against the reality of a more modern, more urban world. In Charlotte, Miami, and Atlanta, Police Departments no longer provide this service to the general public. The Mecklenburg County Sheriff's Office does provide funeral escorts, but charges $150 per funeral to cover the cost for manpower.
Here in Greenville, funeral escorts are still a part of the cultural fabric. The Greenville Police Department provides them at no cost to the funeral homes and grieving families.
Only in the South...