Names added to mariners' memorial at blessing of the fleet

The community gathered at the Wrangell Mariners' Memorial on Sunday, May 19, for the annual blessing of the fleet and to add 14 names to the waterfront memorial at Heritage Harbor.

Added to the memorial this year were Kenneth Olson, Curly Rathbone, Mickey Prescott, Wes Allen, Helen Allen, Cappy Bakke, Randall Churchill Jr., Sam Privett, Dave Hartung, Marion Goodrich, Otto Florschutz III, James Smith, Doyle Sarff and Harold Snoddy.

Jenn Miller-Yancey, Jeff Jabusch, Gig Decker, John Yeager and John Martin read the names aloud.

In keeping with a maritime tradition, Jabusch rang a bell eight times to pay respect to deceased mariners, signifying that a sailor's watch is over.

The afternoon event was sponsored by The Wrangell Mariners' Memorial Committee and Wrangell Ministerial Alliance.

"Let us pour out prayer and blessing for our fleet, gathered here, in port, on the hard, and on the waters," the event program solemnly proclaimed for the blessing of the fleet.

The blessing in seafaring towns "began centuries ago in Mediterranean fishing communities and spread to the eastern seaboard, the Great Lakes fisheries and to the west by immigrant fishermen," the program explained. "The practice reflects the faith-filled hope and trust for a safe and bountiful season."

"O Lord God, listen favorably to our prayers, and by your grace bless these boats. Send your holy angels so that all who sail in them may be delivered and guarded from every danger to life or limb and from all perils of the lakes, rivers and seas from sudden storms and rocky shoals," the Rev. Sue Bahleda, of the Island of Faith Lutheran Church, said in a closing prayer.

"By your guiding light, both day and night, may they, accompanied by your gracious care, arrive safely at all ports of their choices, and may we all finish our journeys safely."

Girl Scout Troop 26 served as color guard and led the gathering with the Pledge of Allegiance. Tasha Morse and a choir sang "The Wrangell Song," which was written by third graders more than 20 years ago, and Quinn Davies read the poem "If You've Ever Lived on an Island."


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