DETROIT (WWJ) – The Edmund Fitzgerald is considered to be the most famous ship to sink in the Great Lakes. The ship sank during a Lake Superior storm on Novermber 10, 1975. Twenty-nine lives were claimed by the lake that day, including the crew and the ships’ captain Ernest M. McSorley.
The loss of the ship is forever immortalized by songwriter Gordon Footlight in a 1976 ballad, The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald.
Marking the 37th anniversary, the Detroit Historical Society will host a ceremony Saturday night at the Dossin Great Lakes Museum on Belle Isle, commemorating the lives lost on the Edmund Fitzgerald.
The Fitzgerald left Superior, Wisconsin on November 9, 1975 and sank on its way to Zug Island during a storm about 17 miles from Whitefish Point on November 10.
The Fitzgerald is amongst the largest and best-known vessels lost on the Great Lakes but she is not alone on the Lake Superior seabed in that area. In the years between 1816, when the Invincible was lost, to the sinking of the Fitzgerald in 1975, the Whitefish Point area had claimed at least 240 ships, according to Wikipedia.
Admission is $5 for Society/Dossin Maritime Group members, $10 for guests and $25 for a family of up to six people.
The schedule of events is as follows:
- 6 p.m. – A lantern ceremony at the Edmund Fitzgerald anchor outside the museum remembers her crew on the 36th anniversary of the ship’s sinking.
- 6:20 p.m. – Lee Murdock performs as guests enter the museum.
- 6:50 p.m. – Assembly of the Lost Mariners honor guard, including members of the United States Coast Guard, Canadian Coast Guard, International Shipmasters Lodge #7, Apostleship of the Sea – Port of Detroit, Lake Carriers Association, Mariners Church of Detroit, Ontario Provincial Police – Commissioner’s Pipe and Drums, Royal Canadian Mounted Police, Royal Canadian Armored Corps, and the U.S. Navy – Bugles Across America. The honor guard will be escorted by bagpipers and a bugler to the river’s edge with
- the Lost Mariners memorial wreath.
- 6:58 p.m. – Reading of lost crew names by Kathy McGraw of the Dossin Maritime Group with a bell toll for each name.
- 7:00 p.m. – Out on the Detroit River, a U.S. Coast Guard helicopter escorts and lights up a flotilla of U.S. and Canadian vessels as they approach the Museum to receive the wreath. The ships include a 41-foot U.S. Coast Guard utility boat with uniformed crew at attention on deck, the Canadian Coast Guard cutter Cape Dundas, the Windsor Police Department service boat Julian Fantino, a Detroit Police Department search and rescue vessel, the Detroit Fire Department’s fire boat Curtis Randolph and the mail boat J.W. Westcott.
- 7:03 p.m. – The Reverend Paul Innes, acting rector of Mariners’ Church, offers a prayer to dedicate the memorial wreath, followed by Fr. Russell Kohler, pastor of Holy Trinity Church in Corktown and chaplain of the Port of Detroit, with a prayer for the lost mariners.
- 7:05 p.m. – The memorial wreath is passed from shore to the U.S. Coast Guard vessel followed by a playing of “Taps” on the river with a Canadian echo of “Last Post.”
- 7:10 p.m. – The wreath honoring those lost on the Great Lakes is laid out in the river with a salute of all water cannons by the Detroit Fire Department’s Curtis Randolph.
- 7:25 p.m. – The program continues inside the Museum with a Tribute to Captain Erickson and Stone’s presentation of “Danger at Every Turn.”
- 8:10 p.m. – The event concludes with a memorial prayer and benediction by Rev. Innes, followed by Lee Murdock’s rendition of “Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald” and a video collage of the ship’s history.