Every day at the museum is different! One of the highlights of my internship was something a little different – our visit to Elmwood Cemetery in Norfolk. A cemetery seems like an odd place to take a group of interns, but we had something very special to do. While we have told the story of the Dictator and its wreck many times, none of us had seen the final resting place of two of the passengers on the ship. The two passengers buried at Elmwood Cemetery were unusual for a cargo ship: the captain’s wife and son, Johanna and Karl Jorgenson, who unfortunately did not survive the wreck.
At the time of the wreck, a local family was so touched by the story, they donated their own grave plots to the captain’s wife and son. Johanna was buried in Elmwood Cemetery in 1891 with her son and their headstone was restored in 1991. We took a field trip to the cemetery to see their headstone and to honor those who did not survive shipwrecks.
It was surreal experience. To see her final resting place and connect with the story on a more personal level really reminded me of the reason our building was created in the first place. This building was saved to preserve the history of the men who risked their own lives to save others. Their heroism and bravery helped shaped Virginia Beach into the city it is today! The connection between where we work everyday and the importance of the life-saving history is something that can be forgotten in daily tasks. But after visiting Johanna’s final resting place, I was reminded of the importance of the men who served here and their stories. We must always remember and share the history here because of its importance to not only Virginia Beach but also those who traveled here.