Taking a moment at the end of a what seemed to be a very long bye week to reflect on a couple of mid-autumn dates that stir up the emotions a bit.
November 10th marks the 38th anniversary of the sinking of the S.S. Edmund Fitzgerald, a Great Lakes freighter that sank into Lake Superior during an early November gale in 1975.
While born and still living in northwest Ohio at the time, I was much too young to recall any memories of hearing/reading news on the tragedy. My family often spent time on Lakes Erie and Superior in the summer months, and I had relatives who either served in the Navy or had some commercial and/or recreational experience on the water.
I moved away from Ohio while still in grammar school, spending time in Virginia and Pennsylvania while keeping an affinity for water near and dear. I served four years myself in the Navy right after high school - seeing some world while investing in putting myself through undergraduate school (which I did, upon completing my service).
The United Nations estimates there are some three million shipwrecks that have occurred since man first learned to sail, with approximately 6,000 in the Great Lakes alone. I often wondered why, even though I couldn't understand it at the time, the loss of the "Mighty Fitz" has stayed with me over the years.
Even after leaving Ohio, my family always came home annually (both parents born and raised, plenty of family still home). I suppose during summer visits and trips to the Lakes I may have heard one of my uncles or cousins bring up the story at some point. I have a vague memory of reading an article in a National Geographic. I don't remember the first time I heard the song, but Gordon Lightfoot's heartfelt tribute also contributed to my continued remembrance. From books I may have read on modern shipwrecks, to times spent on the Lakes, the Cheasapeake Bay, the Jersey Shore, Baltimore's Inner Harbor to seas Mediterranean and oceans Atlantic I've remained drawn to the water....yet haunted by the loss of one ship, one moment.
I don't get out on the drink too often these days. Aside from summer trips to New Jersey and some weekends here and there to the Bay I'm pretty much the landlubber now.
But I have memories, still, of both my experiences and the ones of others. I choose to remember, every year, the experiences of 29 men called home on this date so many years ago.
"Does anyone know where the love of God goes, when the waves turn the minutes to hours...."
For further information on the S.S. Edmund Fitzgerald please visit the following:
In closing, also just want to wish my fellow veterans out there a early Happy Veteran's Day - thank you for your service.