The Martha’s Vineyard Museum will hold the 21st annual Ceremony of Remembrance at the Edgartown Lighthouse Children’s Memorial on Saturday, Sept. 17th, at 1 pm, with a rain date of Sunday, Sept. 24th. The Museum, as the steward of the Edgartown Lighthouse, created the Children’s Memorial in 2001 to memorialize children who left us too soon.
Bereaved families can purchase a cobblestone on which their child’s name will be engraved and permanently installed in the lighthouse’s foundation. The cobblestones lay parallel to the shoreline and are marked by compass points to guide families to their child’s stone. In addition to serving as an eternal tribute, the Children’s Memorial and the annual Edgartown Lighthouse Children’s Museum’s Ceremony of Remembrance provide an opportunity for families to gather and connect with others who have experienced the devastating loss of a child.
History of the Edgartown Lighthouse
The original Edgartown Harbor Lighthouse, built in 1828, was a two-story light-keeper’s home with a lantern room perched on the roof. It looked very different from today’s traditional white tower Cape Cod lighthouses. In 1938, the old light-keeper’s house suffered irreparable damage during a hurricane. It was demolished, and in April of 1939, the current lighthouse was transported by barge from Ipswich, MA, to Edgartown, where it still stands today, welcoming boats and visitors to Edgartown Harbor. In 2012, the US Coast Guard declared the lighthouse no longer “mission-critical,” and ownership was transferred to the town of . Edgartown.
The Edgartown Lighthouse Children’s Memorial has endowed this iconic historic landmark with a new mission. It now serves as a beacon of hope and eternal memory for families united by the tragic loss of a child.
The Vision behind the Edgartown Lighthouse Children’s Memorial
The idea for creating the memorial came from Rick Harrington, a Palm Beach salon owner whose sixteen-year-old was killed in a car accident in 1995. While looking through an album of old family photos, Rick came across a picture of his son Ricky with his younger brother Blake standing in front of the Edgartown Lighthouse while visiting Martha’s Vineyard on vacation. Ricky was wearing a Nike “Just do it” t-shirt.” Inspired by the photo and the desire to honor the memory of his son, Rick Harrison contacted an architect and crafted a plan to create the memorial.
Since the creation of the Edgartown Lighthouse Children’s Memorial in 2001, over 1,000 families from around the world have added stones engraved with their children’s names; many of the families return to the island each September to gather and remember. A small portion of the cost of each memorial cobblestone helps to fund the upkeep of the lighthouse.
The Light Shines On
The loss of a child carries immeasurable grief for the parents and families left behind. Rick Harrison conceived of the Edgartown Lighthouse Children’s Memorial as a way to “always keep the light on for his late son, Ricky.” Today, the Edgartown Lighthouse provides a perpetual reminder that although a child is gone, their unique and glorious light and the love of their family and friends shine on forever.