The Ship and Crew
There have been many memorials in the past commemorating the sinking of the Edmund Fitzgerald. From books to plays to television shows to a top ten song, the Edmund Fitzgerald has been memorialized many times over the last three decades.
Bell Ringing Ceremonies - 2012 - Mariners' Church and Great Lakes Shipwreck Museum
Every year, these two places hold ceremonies for family and friends of the lost crewmen of the Edmund Fitzgerald. At the end of each service, families and/or friends (or designated dignitaries) ring the bell at the front of the room and chapel when the name of their loved one is called. Both services are very moving, and a 30th ring is always tolled for all sailors lost in the six thousand shipwrecks of the Great Lakes. The ceremony at Mariners' Church by Reverend Richard Ingalls was the first ever commemoration to the men, and is mentioned in the song. The day after the wreck, the Reverend prayed for the twenty-nine men's families and rang the church bell twenty-nine times, as mentioned in Lightfoot's song.
Other November 10, 2012 Edmund Fitzgerald Memorial Services
Other Memorials from the Past
Play- Ten November
This theatrical production which was originally a musical is a wonderful ninety minute reenactment of the ship's final trip up until the sinking and after, going back and forth in a form that seems to resemble flashbacks. Nine men play forty-four roles in this commemoration production, written by Steven Dietz. The webmaster and his family have seen this play in a local theater, and were guests backstage where they were able to meet the director and discuss the play. The family recommends this play to anyone who wishes to know more about the sinking and learn about the men onboard.
Play- Holdin' Our Own
A newer play in the growing collection of theatrical memorials to the Edmund Fitzgerald, the play Holdin' Our Own was written by Shelley Russell, an instructor at Northern Michigan University. The play included several actors to play the roles of the twenty-nine original crewmen and the play favors no specific theory to the sinking of the ship, it ends in such a way that you have a chance to make up your own ending as to why the ship sank. This play is a great tribute to the men, without getting too political or opinionated in the way it presents the material. For more information, or to read an interview with one of the actors, Daniel "Rusty" Bowers, and the director, Shelley Russell, visit our interviews page by clicking here.
Song: The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald
The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald, written by Gordon Lightfoot and inspired by the shipwreck, was released in 1976, just months after the shipwreck itself. It became a top-ten hit immediately, and was very popular all over, though many people didn't even realize it was based on truth (some just think it is a "great story"). Once people started researching it, more and more people became aware of the actual sunken Edmund Fitzgerald, and more and more people are learning of it everyday. The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald, (the song) is one reason that so many people know of the shipwreck itself, and why the Edmund Fitzgerald is the most well-known shipwreck on the Great Lakes. Click here to get lyrics, and learn about Gordon Lightfoot and his song.
The various books on the market based on the wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald are among the most popular research materials regarding the sinking; they are the most informative many time, and they are easily attainable. There are many books on the market, but to hear about just a few of them, click here.
The Consecration of the Gravesite
On Saturday, July 17, 1999, Mariners' Church in Detroit, along with the U.S. Coast Guard and the families of the lost men on the Fitz, came together to have a final "closure." This closure would be one that many families could receive less than a week after a loved ones death. This is having a place considered a gravesite. The families of the lost Edmund Fitzgerald crew men had to wait twenty four years, but they finally received this closure. The bell was rung twenty nine times, a service was held, wreaths were cast, and even Gordon Lightfoot was present. This two hour service was beautiful and probably one of the best memorials to this day.
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