The Seafarer’s Memorial: Honoring Those Lost At Sea

In January Anita and I traveled to Homer, Alaska for some much needed R&R. Of course I wanted to get some graving in, and the great thing about graving is that pretty much everywhere you go there is a cemetery or memorial to explore.

While driving out to the hotel, Anita noticed the Seafarers Memorial, a pretty common sight in a coastal town I’ve been told, but I had never been to one before. This one is located on the Homer spit overlooking Kachemak Bay, and despite the poor weather, was still a beautiful and peaceful spot for reflection.

Picture of the Seafarer's Memorial on the Homer Spit in Alaska.

A walkway with stones dedicated to loved ones leads to the main focal point of the memorial, an open gazebo type structure lined with the names of those lost at sea. In the center of the gazebo is the statue of a fisherman standing in honor of those poor departed souls. At the base of the statue lie rocks, incense, and trinkets, symbols to represent recent visitors. The statue itself was also adorned with offerings, such as a straw hat, a lei, and a wreath.

Closeup picture of the face of the fisherman statue at the Seafarer's Memorial in Homer, Alaska.What really struck me about this place was the tiles inside with the names of those lost at sea. I don’t know when the memorial was erected, but the oldest tile dedications I saw were for Marion Anderson and her daughters, Aileen and Elizabeth, who died on October 23, 1934 aboard the “Monson Mail Boat”.

A google search revealed precious little details about the deaths of the Anderson family, but I was able to find this snippet about the accident:

“The boat was coming from the larger town of Seldovia to deliver passengers, mail and supplies but foundered offshore.

As it went down in the rollers, a young mother and her two daughters drowned within sight of a large group of people who had come to meet the boat to get and send mail and freight. The mother [Marion] and older girls [Elizabeth] bodies were recovered, but the baby [Aileen] never was.”

Bell at Seafarers Memorial in Homer, Alaska

Nearby stands a bell with pretty elaborate carvings on the stand, which states “This bell tolls for all the souls set free upon the sea.”

My understanding is that when a memorial for a person lost at sea is held in this spot, the bell is rung in their honor. I wondered whether or not the sound of the bell ringing would be welcome, I can’t imagine having a memorial for a loved one here and hearing that bell ring, it seems so…final.

I am really glad that we stopped by this place, it was so serene and beautiful, a very apt place for such a memorial. Looking out on such a vast body of water while in this setting can be very thought provoking.

“A ship in a harbor is safe, but that is not what ships are built for.”

Picture of the mountains and water at Katchemak Bay in Homer, Alaska near the Seafarer's Memorial.

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