On Saturday, September 29, family members of the El Faro crew, AMO Plans directors and staff, executives of the TOTE family of companies and other ship operating companies, and American Maritime Officers members, officials, families and staff gathered to dedicate a memorial on the AMO Plans campus in a solemn ceremony surrounding the physical monument mourning the loss and honoring the lives of the 33 crew members of El Faro.
"We all know that the officers, crew and riding gang aboard El Faro fought heroically for each other - as friends and as family - against nature at her strongest," said the AMO National President during the dedication ceremony. "Our hope this morning is that our El Faro families have found measures of peace and comfort after all this time.
"Like others before it, the memorial we dedicate today will help sustain the feelings, the sentiments we all know so well," he said.
"Everyone who passes through here from this moment, for training or to participate in an industry conference, will pause in this place to reflect," he said. "They will share stories about their seagoing experiences with personal friends lost off Crooked Island in the Bahamas. They will tell their children what this memorial represents.
"And they will ask the difficult questions each of us has asked for three years, questions for which there are no easy answers."
The memorial is located in the butterfly garden adjacent to the Bracco Building on the AMO Plans campus and is accessible to AMO members and families, as well as staff members, families and friends of the union and AMO Plans.
Serving in the dedication ceremony were the South Broward High School ROTC, STAR Center Director of Member Training Gerard Pannell, SIU Assistant Vice President Archie Ware, Broward Sheriff Fire Rescue Honor Guard Commander Charles Eckert, and Father Sears, chaplain, Seafarers' House at Port Everglades.
"Today we dedicate a piece of art that will remind us all forever of the El Faro's last crew, " said the AMO National Vice President, Inland Waters, during the dedication ceremony.
"In some ways, October 1, 2015 seems like a long time ago, but in a lot of ways, it seems like yesterday - a day when the clouds never hung so low," he said.
"The loss of the El Faro was a shock wave felt everywhere, and not just in the maritime industry," he said.
"Every sailor knows the sharp pain of going to the ship and leaving home, family, loved ones, and maybe even the dog behind. We all know the familiar routine of a drop off at the airport or dockside, and a quick hug and kiss and 'see you in 75 or 120,' or however long we expect to be on the ship," he said. "The sailor's happiest day was always when he or she headed down the gangway for the last time for a little while to head home for a well deserved vacation.
"The El Faro broke that model for us, most of all for the El Faro sailors and their families, who honor us with their presence today.
"The men and women of the AMO, and the whole maritime industry have a special place in their hearts and minds for our brothers and sisters lost on the ship," he said.
"This memorial honors the men and women who sailed that ship on her last journey. AMO and AMO Plans honor and remember them."