Pondering Abbie Burgess and the ABBIE BURGESS
For well-nigh two decades, I have beheld the splendid scene of the buoy tender ABBIE BURGESS – one of the United States Coast Guard’s finest cutters, steaming to and fro by Owls Head Lighthouse. And not just any cutter, but one of a select number from the noble Keeper Class designation.
This stately black hull bears the name of a woman of great renown – Maine heroine Abbie Burgess who forged an indelible legacy at a remote place known as “The Rock.” Matinicus Rock to be precise, which is located twenty-some miles out at sea where storms, loneliness and monotony frolic without regard.
Many know of Abbie’s riveting story and of her uncommon dedication, bravery and resourcefulness. It is the stuff of legend. Abbie’s accomplishments – and more importantly, her indomitable spirit and profound sense of duty, have long exemplified the finest qualities a lightkeeper could have possibly desired to possess. Through the annals of time and right up to the present, the inspiring story of Abbie Burgess gleams on.
For me, there is never a time when I admire the buoy tender underway that I do not reflect for a moment upon Abbie Burgess and her remarkable service. During the cutter’s latest transit by Owls Head Light, I recalled in my mind a question Abbie had once asked. It was, “I wonder if the care of the lighthouse will follow my soul after it has left this worn out body?”
It was then I realized the question that Abbie posed long ago actually did receive an acknowledgment thanks to the U.S. Coast Guard. As I stood in the lantern observing the interplay of the buoy tender plying the waters of Penobscot Bay amidst a reflection of the Fresnel lens, the answer inexplicably appeared. The spirit of Abbie Burgess does indeed live on – and it still shines bright amongst lighthouses and with the Coast Guard’s ongoing service to the mariner. Abbie would be beaming with joy!