Kopechne memorials found on Dyke Bridge

Flowers and rocks memorialize Mary Jo Kopechne on the Dyke Bridge on Chappaquiddick. — Gabrielle Mannino

A new plaque screwed into the Dyke Bridge on Chappaquiddick in remembrance of Mary Jo Kopechne has gotten the attention of the public and town officials.

The black and gold metal plaque reads: “In remembrance Mary Jo Kopehcne 7/26/1940 – 7/18/1969 Dike Bridge, Chappaquiddick” (Dyke and Dike are both used).

July 2019 marked 50 years since the death of Kopechne, the 28-year-old campaign worker who drowned in a car driven off the Dyke Bridge on Chappaquiddick by U.S. Sen. Edward “Ted” Kennedy. The incident launched Chappaquiddick into the national spotlight, and has been the subject of numerous books, television shows, and a movie.

Edgartown town administrator James Hagerty told The Times he received an anonymous letter nine months ago requesting the selectmen put a memorial on the bridge, but no action was taken. “The town owns the bridge and maintains it,” Hagerty said. “I don’t know how long that plaque has been here.”

Hagerty added that no one has reached out to him about the plaques, but he plans to talk to selectmen about it, and possibly set it as an agenda item at the board’s next meeting.
The plaque isn’t the only Kopechne memorial on the bridge. A wooden plaque reading, “R.I.P. Mary Jo,” small wooden tags with Kopechne’s birth and death dates, a bouquet of flowers, and rocks inscribed with “MJK” all pay homage to her.

Other small tributes to Kopechne showed up attached to public signs in Edgartown, Oak Bluffs, and Vineyard Haven around the anniversary date last month.