But who amongst us will ever forget waking on the morning of Tuesday, November 11, 1975 to the news. The news that none of us could believe at first. The news that the cold waters of Lake Superior had, the night before, taken from us one of the staunchest vessels we had known.
Yes, it has indeed been a year since the loss of the EDMUND FITZGERALD. And a year since 29 men went to a frigid mass grave more than five hundred feet below the surface of wind-swept Superior. Not one of them has ever come ashore.
During the year that has passed, we have heard snippits of news from the evidence presented at the official enquiry into the sinking. We have had a chance to see the wreckage which came ashore. And we have even seen that most remarkable piece of film taken on the bottom of the lake and showing the remains of the FITZGERALD in their final resting place.
But are we any closer to knowing the reason for the accident? We all have our theories and undoubtedly the enquiry will produce a finding of some sort. Vessels that have been due for survey in the meantime seem to have been given an unusually close examination, but we heard of the discovery of no major faults, with the possible exception (and a questionable one at that) of the case of the poor old AVONDALE.
Will we ever know what really happened out on Superior that night? Will we learn the details of whatever truly awesome power overcame a 729-foot steamer so quickly that no call for help could be made? We sincerely hope so, for only in that way will we be able to prevent a recurrence of the tragedy.
Remembrance Day 1976 will truly be a day of remembrance for those of us who follow the ships of the Great Lakes. We'll remember the EDMUND FITZGERALD and her crew, but most of all we'll remember what our calm lakes of summertime can do when November comes around.
Reproduced for the Web with the permission of the Toronto Marine Historical Society.