How We Remember The Ocean Ranger

A post I wrote five years ago, about the men lost on the Ocean Ranger, is the most popular post on this blog and it still continues to receive a lot of views, and some comments, over on my long abandoned blogspot blog. It is a place where people leave remembrances of their family members who were lost and even where people post and email me to look for long lost family members connected to someone who was lost on the oil rig. This morning, I listened as the names of the men who died thirty years ago were read out on the radio. When I wrote that post, I didn’t know any of the names but this morning many sounded familiar because they were men connected now to the people who had posted comments of remembrance and loss.

I received one email from a woman in the United States, who was related, by marriage, to a man lost on the Ocean Ranger. She was doing some research into the Ocean Ranger and asked me some questions. She also said, “I am curious as to your choice to blog about the incident with no ties to anyone on board the rig.” I was surprised by her question and told her so. I added, “I guess if you don’t live here, you don’t realize what a huge impact the disaster had on our province and people. It would be something like (although, of course, on a much smaller scale) asking someone why they would blog about the disaster on September 11, 2001. I would say that any Newfoundlander who was alive then remembers where they were when they heard of the disaster and the dark days afterwards. Every year we remember and think of those men and the families they left behind. There is a memorial service here and their names are read out.” She thanked me for that explanation and we had some more back and forth, her sharing with me her reasons for her research.

It was very interesting to see, from someone outside our province, our memorializing of that day and those men. I remember thinking at the time, that we Newfoundlanders and Labradorians hold the memories of our disasters quite close, but especially disasters involving the sea. More recently, the crash of Cougar 491, on March 12, 2009, is another one seared in our memories. But today, as on February 15 every year (and the 14th too because that’s when the storm started), we remember the men of the Ocean Ranger and the families and friends left behind. Today my facebook news feed is full of my friends who didn’t know anyone on the rig remembering those who were lost, with pictures, and quotes, and poems, and songs. That’s what we do. We remember.

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