Great Lakes Maritime Academy Reflects On 41st Anniversary of S.S. Edmund Fitzgerald Tragedy

Forty-one years ago Thursday the S.S. Edmund Fitzgerald sank in Lake Superior.

 All 29 men on board went down with it. 

 A tragedy that hits close to home at Northwestern Michigan College.

Thursday the college’s Great Lakes Maritime Academy is remembering the crew 41 years later.

They hold a Great Lakes Mariners Memorial Service every year on this day to honor them and all other mariners killed on duty.

Twenty-nine tolls, one for each soul on the Edmund Fitzgerald.

Forty-one years later a moment that reflects the pain of the tragedy.

President of the Propeller Club Cadet Alex Giamboi says, “It’s a humbling experience and we just want to pay our respects to those who’ve done it before us. We had a cadet on the Edmund Fitzgerald at that time who was killed when it sank with the rest of the crew so we take that very seriously.”

Retired U.S. Marine Services Captain Mark Philips lost two classmates that day and says like those men this ceremony should not be forgotten. “Things get better with time just like all tragedies, but the important thing is for it to become a tradition so like I said the cadets, the next set of cadets and the next set of cadets.”

Even for those who don’t sail the Great Lakes or oceans daily being part of this ceremony gives them a chance to immortalize crews that loss their lives.

Donald and Valerie Fewins say this is their first time at the memorial service and hearing those names gave them a new respect for the men that died on the S.S. Edmund Fitzgerald. “Sadness to think that many of those young men were young and had a lot left to live and sadness for the families and their loss.”

Whether they died on the Edmund Fitzgerald or any other ship Captain Philips says this ceremony honors all who sacrifice their lives working on the water. “We don’t celebrate the loss we celebrate what it teaches us our friends are gone, so let’s learn from it so their life wasn’t in vain.”