Ceremony of remembrance draws Vineyarders

The ceremony of remembrance was started by Rick Harrington, who lost his son at age 16. — Photo by Michael Cummo

On Saturday, hundreds of Islanders gathered under blue skies at the Edgartown Lighthouse for the 14th annual ceremony of remembrance.

The Edgartown Lighthouse Children’s Memorial now has more than 700 stones set around the lighthouse, each inscribed with the name of a child whose life was lost too soon. The ceremony is held by the Martha’s Vineyard Museum, steward of the lighthouse, and featured comforting music, prayer, and remarks.

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. And participants at Saturday’s ceremony filled the plaza and stood several deep on the sand.

This article drew on reporting from a story written by Pat Waring in the September 22, 2013 MVTimes.