Hand, heart and steel: the “El Faro” memorial is coming to an end; inauguration ceremony scheduled for September


ROCKLAND — The hand is carved out of metal, but it’s Jay Sawyer’s hand. Intricately carved details raised in standing salute from an empty maritime uniform were lovingly crafted by this sculptor from Warren, who not only put his heart into his work for the victims of Faro, but also used his hand as a mold for salvation. For the faceless female who will stand next to the male, Sawyer’s daughter lent her own hand.

On Monday, August 8, 2022, Rockland City Council will vote to authorize an afternoon road closure on Atlantic Street for Saturday, September 24 at 1 p.m., when hundreds of people from across the country gather at the inauguration ceremony of the Northeast region. “Faro Salute!” memorial, which will be located on Atlantic Street “between culture and industry”, as Sawyer likes to say.

The project has “a life of its own,” he said. “It’s gone and running, and it’s not even a hundred percent done yet.”

Sawyer has been working at this time ever since he learned of the sinking of the Faro freighter in 2015 and the loss of its crew of 33, including Danielle Randolph and Dylan Meklin from the Rockland area, Michael Davidson from Windham and Michael Holland from Wilton.

With the support of the families of the deceased, as well as permission for land use from Dragon Cement and the City of Rockland, Sawyer moved forward bit by bit, using the time and resources allocated to him to produce a product well think.

“It’s very satisfying to be so close,” he said. “I feel so good this is what it is, and how good it went.”

The sheath material is steel salvaged from the demolition of the American Can Company, Portland. Other memorial material was salvaged directly from the Saint-Georges River.

The names of each crew member are now written in pencil on a large board in alphabetical order by first name, waiting for Sawyer to engrave the letters permanently, then family and friends bring their pencil wax and rub their keepsake on paper.

David Lufkin made the buttons for the women’s uniform. Retired captains spread the fundraising message and help organize the ceremony. The Penobscot Marine Museum handles donations. The Maine Maritime Academy and the Massachusetts Maritime Academy offered their color guards.

Financially, $100,000 of the $135,000 prize has already been met, largely thanks to the maritime community. These contributions came from the west coast, the gulf coast and the east coast.

Despite the continued gap in funds, Sawyer keeps going. The memorial will be completed, according to Sawyer. The participants bought plane tickets. Ceremony speakers were engaged, including Mayor Ed Glaser and author and inspirational speaker Peter Panagore.

“This tragedy had a lot of large-scale effects,” he said. “It really becomes apparent, when you go behind the scenes of this, and the planning, and the dedication and everything – seeing how much it means to people of all types. Beyond families, shipmates, colleagues and others.

On behalf of the community, Sawyer asks them to consider donating for the future of the permanent memorial, which will remain in place 24/7. It is a regional memorial to the Faro. A memorial can also be found in Florida. Another in San Juan.

But for the eight Northeast crew, it is now the local family site. It’s Maine’s nod to the shipping industry and Rockland’s own history. And, it provides another reason for travelers to visit Rockland.

To that end, Sawyer would like the community to consider supporting the memorial groundbreaking ceremony and/or helping with upgrades, insurance, and other necessities down the road.

“Everything about the project is perfect,” he said. “Apart from the fact that it was necessary, all of this is satisfactory. Very satisfaying. Important in two different areas: public art and the therapeutic benefits of art, the healing power of art. Everything is connected and everything comes together in one piece here. It’s a pretty powerful thing.

Sawyer’s business, Studio JBone, has been closed to the public for a few years. However, Sawyer now plans to reopen to the community on a regular, but limited, basis once the El Faro project is complete.

See the previous article

Proposed El Faro Salute! the memorial stands as the fifth anniversary of the sinking approaches

Contact Sarah Thompson at [email protected]


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