September is a month of anniversaries for me in many ways, and in a solemn way, for the United States.
Aboard Seanachai for our wedding anniversary cruise, my husband and I made a two-day trip along the Intracoastal Waterway (ICW) from Charleston, SC to the Limehouse Bridge on John’s Island.
I photographed lots of watercraft along the way, but this image of the Research Vessel Joe Ferguson is particularly significant. She was apparently having some maintenance completed at Ross Marine boatyard on John’s Island when I snapped this picture. Not the best photo technically, but the story makes it special.
According to the website, the vessel was obtained by Gray’s Reef National Marine Sanctuary in July 2008. She provides a platform for research, rescue, training and educational operations for researchers connected with NOAA’s Office of National Marine Sanctuaries.
The boat is named for Joe Ferguson, who was the former director of the National Geographic Society Education and Outreach Program. Ferguson was killed on September 11, 2001 when the plane carrying him was hijacked and flown into the Pentagon. He was traveling with National Geographic Society staffer Anne Judge, and three teacher-student pairs on an educational trip to the Channel Islands of California. The team was planning to participate in a Sustainable Seas Expedition. The teacher-student pairs were: teacher James Debeuneure and student Rodney Dickens; teacher Sarah Clark and student Asia Cottom, teacher Hilda Taylor and student Bernard Brown. All of the star students were 11-year old sixth graders.
That I would learn about these outstanding people and their work within days of the anniversary of their deaths makes this September profoundly memorable.