Last Monday, November 10, 2008, we attended the Great Lakes Mariners Memorial Service at the Great Lakes Shipwreck Museum at Whitefish Point, Michigan. It was the 33rd anniversary of the sinking of the Edmund Fitzgerald where 29 men lost their lives. The service was meaningful and informative. The service included speakers associated with shipping or shipwrecks.
The service was attended by CPO1 Navy League Cadets from Canada.
The service was opened by Carl Behrend who is a Great Lakes balladeer from Munising, Michigan. He opened by singing "The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald", the song made famous by Gordon Lightfoot. Later in the service, Mr. Behrend sang "Amazing Grace" acapella. His beautiful voice combined with the powerful words really touched the crowd. During the the final verse, the audience spontaneouly joined in with him.
The opening remarks were given by James Spurr, President of the Great Lakes Shipwreck Historical Society. He spoke about the importance of the water and shipping to human kind. He quoted the oldest poem that has been written down called the Wayfarer which was written around 900 AD.
The next speaker was Rev. Patrick Pointer. Rev. Pointer appeared twice in the program. He gave the invocation as well as presenting two beautiful wood carvings of the Edmund Fitzgerald. His words were so meaningful and really touched my heart. I contacted Rev. Pointer and he was gracious enough to share the words of the invocation with me. There are important enough to share with you. You can contact Rev. Pointer about his award-winning carvings at email@example.com.
I will continue my description of the service in the next blog.
Edmund Fitzgerald Bell Ringing Ceremony
November 10, 2008
This year marks the 50th Anniversary of the Launching of the Edmund Fitzgerald. We have come here this evening to pay tribute and to remember, not only those who sailed on that great ship, but to honor, and remember those who built, sailed, captained, and crewed the thousands of ships large and small that have sailed these Great Lakes as well as those who dedicated their lives to the Life Saving efforts of those in the United States Life Saving Service, the United States Coast Guard and the many civilians that put their lives in harms way to save the life of another.
For there are thousand upon thousands of lives that will be truly represented here tonight and each one of them has a story. When a ship is lost to these Great Waters, it is not just about one ship and one crew, but it involves many who are left behind and each of them have a story as well. And some how, we are all connected to these many stories. We drive the cars that came from the ore that these ships carried, live in homes that were built with the bricks and lumber they shipped, driven on roads that were provided by their cement and gravel, and the list goes on! Some how we are all connected.
I know that Gordon Lightfoot is very dear to many of you as his song “The wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald” has brought significant attention to
Tonight, I have the answer to that perplexing question. His LOVE never left, it has been there all the time! And it is here tonight to heal, to comfort, to draw you near to Him, and to fill you with His presence if you will allow Him to.
The two carvings that I created to dedicate to this ship were carved to encompass the many who were involved over the last 50 years of the history of this ship. The first of the two titled; “Fare Thee Well” depicts the Mighty Fitz as she passes The
That Scripture is often quoted when a ship is launched, for everyone knows when you put a ship on the water, whether it is as small as a canoe or a thousand footer there is always the chance it will be lost.
For the past 33 years, this ship has become the “Icon” of the over 6000 ships that have been lost on the
The second of the two carvings is entitled, “FAREWELL.” Often times when a ship is lost no one witnesses what happened or what actually took place and those who have survived are left with the questions of HOW… WHY… and memories of a loved one now gone. And the love of God is there… and the Love of God is here.
There was a small ship on the sea of Galilee in the middle of the night, in the midst of a storm and the lives of those on her were in peril. They called out to Jesus who was in their ship and He calmed the storm… He saved them. The Bible tells us that…For “whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.” I cannot help but think in those moments when one finds their life in Greatest Distress, that God would not give them the opportunity to “Call upon the Name of the Lord.” His Love is there… and His Love is HERE!
On the carving entitled, “FAREWELL” I engraved on the back a verse out of the New Testament in hopes to bring comfort and closure not as much to the many stories of the many lives who have been lost to these Great Lakes… but to those who have been left behind… wondering… “Does anyone know where the love of God goes when the waves turn the minutes to hours…?” His Love was there… and His Love is HERE. And for those who were given that great opportunity to Call Upon the Name of the Lord… If they were able to speak to us here tonight… I believe in my heart they would say… something very close to what is engraved on “FAREWELL”
Grace be with you all. Amen.
His Love was there… and His Love is Here Tonight… And now I call upon the name of the Lord… SAVE US! Amen… and Amen!