Valentine’s Day is never just Valentine’s Day for me, and I am sure it is true for many Newfoundlanders and Labradorians, especially those who were around 25 years ago. It is the day before the anniversary of the Ocean Ranger Disaster. For many of us, February 15th is as recognizable a date as the 14th. Today is the 25th anniversary of the disaster, of the morning when the province woke up to hear the unthinkable, that so many men were lost in one fell swoop. An island used to painful losses at sea or on the ice, suddenly had this new, unprecedented horror. Men lost en masse with no survivors.
I did not know anyone on the Ocean Ranger. My surprise and sadness that day was about the enormity of it while others experienced it on a very singular level, no doubt aware of the hugeness of it all but enveloped in their own personal grief. So how to remember these men 25 years later? Men I did not know.
Well, I took some time to read each name and remember them not as just names or numbers or a part of a famous disaster we remember every year, but as fathers, sons, husbands, brothers, boyfriends, grandsons, uncles, cousins and friends; in terms of missed birthday parties, anniversaries, graduations, and wedding days; as children that would never be born and loves never found; as jokes not told and songs not sung; and as a goodnight kiss missed forever. Maybe you’d like to do the same and take a few minutes to read the names and remember someone you may not have known and the families and friends he left behind.
I am so very sorry for your loss, every one.
Capt. Clarence Hauss
Paschal Joesph O’Neill
Benjamin Kent Thompson
Names provided by Memorials Online.