Edgartown Lighthouse guides those in grief

Family and friends attended the 13th annual Ceremony of Remembrance at the Edgartown Lighthouse Children's Memorial Saturday. — Photo by Michael Cummo

On Saturday, a large crowd of more than 100 parents and friends ringed the Edgartown Lighthouse under a brilliant blue sky for the 13th annual Ceremony of Remembrance. Many arrived early in order to lay flowers and seashells on specific memorial bricks engraved with the name of a loved one; others brought paint and Sharpies used to blacken the engraved name to make it more visible.

The annual Ceremony of Remembrance held by the Martha’s Vineyard Museum, steward of the lighthouse, provides an opportunity — amid comforting music, prayer, and remarks — to remember young people who left life too early.

Rick Harrington first envisioned creating the memorial as a way to honor his son Ricky Jr., who died at 16 in an auto accident in 1995. A few years after the devastating loss, Mr. Harrington was inspired by a photo of Ricky at the lighthouse years earlier. He took his vision of a children’s memorial to the Martha’s Vineyard Historical Society (now the Martha’s Vineyard Museum), where he received a positive response from director Matthew Stackpole, lighthouse committee chair Craig Dripps, and others.

After countless months of planning, gathering support, and facing challenges, a slow but steady restoration process began on the lighthouse, then in a state of extreme disrepair. Rebuilding the crumbling base and laying cobblestones was a first step.

The dedication ceremony on July 14, 2001, was a momentous occasion, with some 120 names scattered on stones placed across the plaza and a modest crowd. Now the inscribed cobblestones are everywhere.

More and more names have been added each year, as word of the unique memorial has spread far beyond the Island. Some cobblestones bear familiar names that commemorate those with connections to the Vineyard. Many others come from across New England, other states around the country, and even abroad.

For more information, go to mvmuseum.org.