Anyone who knows me already knew what today's post was going to be about before even clicking on their bookmark/favorites link. Yes, today is the 32d anniversary of the sinking of the S.S. Edmund Fitzgerald.
If you are unfamiliar with this maritime tragedy, here is a brief description from the excellent Great Lakes Shipwreck Museum website:
"The legend of the Edmund Fitzgerald remains the most mysterious and controversial of all shipwreck tales heard around the Great Lakes. Her story is surpassed in books, film and media only by that of the Titanic. Canadian folksinger Gordon Lightfoot inspired popular interest in this vessel with his 1976 ballad, "The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald."
The Edmund Fitzgerald was lost with her entire crew of 29 men on Lake Superior November 10, 1975, 17 miles north-northwest of Whitefish Point, Michigan. Whitefish Point is the site of the Whitefish Point Light Station and Great Lakes Shipwreck Museum. The Great Lakes Shipwreck Historical Society (GLSHS) has conducted three underwater expeditions to the wreck, 1989, 1994, and 1995.
At the request of family members surviving her crew, Fitzgerald's 200 lb. bronze bell was recovered by the Great Lakes Shipwreck Historical Society on July 4, 1995. This expedition was conducted jointly with the National Geographic Society, Canadian Navy, Sony Corporation, and Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians. The bell is now on display in the Great Lakes Shipwreck Museum as a memorial to her lost crew."
This week I looked into, and very nearly booked my flight to attend in person the memorial service scheduled for tonight. I could not work out all the travel arrangements necessary for this weekend but will plan ahead another year to have enough time to take in several of the commemorative events planned throughout the Midwest.
If you are lucky enough to be within driving distance, here is the information about tonight, again from the Shipwreck Museum's site:
" The Great Lakes Shipwreck Museum will present the 32nd annual Edmund Fitzgerald Memorial Service at 7 pm Saturday, November 10, 2007, at the Great Lakes Shipwreck Museum, Whitefish Point, Michigan. The public is invited to attend. The service includes reflections, music, and the Call to the Last Watch Ceremony in which the ship's bell is rung 29 times for each crewman lost with her, and a 30th ring for all who have lost their lives on the Great Lakes. Refreshments will be served; seating is limited, it is recommended that you arrive early. Admission to the Fitzgerald Service is free.
Or, click here to watch the 30th anniversary service from wherever you are.
"The music-filled theatrical production of “Gales of November” begins at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 10, at the Capitol Civic Centre, 913 S. Eighth St., Manitowoc. Tickets are $33, $25 and $19. (920) 683-2184.
The Wisconsin Maritime Museum, 75 Maritime Drive, Manitowoc, will open its exhibit, “Of Ships and Men — The Edmund Fitzgerald” on Saturday, Nov. 10. It will run through winter 2008. Winter hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. seven days a week. Admission to tour the museum and USS Cobia submarine is $12 for adults; $10 for children, 6 to 15; and free for ages 5 and under. 1 (866) 724-2356."
And from the Star-Tribune, a useful summary of the ship and its last voyage can be found here, plus word of this event in Minnesota:
"The 32nd anniversary of the most famous maritime disaster in Great Lakes history will be marked this weekend on Minnesota's North Shore. A beacon lighting and commemoration of the sinking of the Edmund Fitzgerald in 1975 is scheduled for Saturday and Sunday at the Split Rock Lighthouse northeast of Two Harbors. This annual event includes a film about the Fitzgerald to be shown in the Visitor Center theater throughout the afternoon.
The lighthouse and fog signal building will be open and staffed both days from noon to 6 pm. The lighthouse will close temporarily at 4:30 p.m., and the names of the 29 lost crew members will be read as a ship's bell tolls. After the ceremony, the beacon will be lit and the tower will reopen for visitors.
The commemoration is led by the Minnesota Historical Society. There is a fee of $4 for ages 6 and older. Society members pay no fee."
Rest in peace, men.
P.S. There was a humorous misunderstanding one year when I pulled up to a stoplight next to a car with an license plate that read 11 10 75. I rolled down my window and starting chatting with him, assuming he was a fellow Edmund Fitzgerald fan. He looked at me like I was crazy and when I asked about his plate he reminded me that the United States Marine Corps. was founded on November, 10 1775!
So Semper Fi too, men.