The Titanic is the most famous ship, for tragedy. On its way from England and Ireland to New York, USA: it struck an iceberg near Newfoundland, Canada. It sank in 3 hours, in an early month when the north is below zero Celcius. We know the history. There were 50% fewer lifeboats than needed. Crew poorly-trained for evacuation, utilized the lifeboats they had wastefully. Only 710 escaped the nightmare result. Across the world we think of 1517 lives lost and how families felt: on April 15, 1912.
It’s frustrating to know how the terror could have been averted, or aided. The ‘Californian’ was nearby but neglected signals! To be fair, they warned of ice when they stopped overnight. A Titanic operator brushed it off. The Californian captain slept, despite reports of flares. The outcome was so catastrophic, any alive to answer for missteps, surely self-sentenced to a lifetime of guilt.
We’re touched because many lived for decades to share details; like “Nearer My God To Thee”. They heard the hymn on deck as they rowed away… knowing the singers gave up escape and accepted an ocean peril. Imagine HEARING acceptance of death, someone’s plea that God care for them. Survivor’s guilt must have been strong, except they honoured the dead by living well.
I have compassion for unfairness. As I child I thought it amazing this took place during my Grandpa’s time, at age 2. Southampton, England was hurt deeply, for it was their families on board. Most didn’t go on vacation but in migration with all they owned. After escaping, the passengers needed financial help. Three Canadian ships respectfully returned for 328 bodies. As many as possible were carried to Halifax, Nova Scotia where their markers can be seen.
The rescuer, the ‘Carpathia’, reached New York in 3 days. It was 2 fightening days to get a survivor’s list, another agonizing 4 days to release complete casualties to the waiting world. It took 73 years to locate the wreck! In 1985, my lifetime, what is left was found! I recall the moral debate about taking it out of the water if they could. Would it be a symbol of relief to at last bring the remnants to dry ground? Should this be considered a grave site to leave in peace?
Survivors appreciated life! Two month-old, Millvina Dean reached age 97. She died June 1, 2009; Titanic’s last passenger. Other infants did well! Barbara Dainton was 96 in 2007 and Lillian Asplund lived until 2006, a full 99 years. In optimism, let us say for everyone affected: this April 15th, we give thanks that a tragic event is 100 years behind us.
* Philippine ferry “Doña Paz” suffered worse in 1987. Mistakes were covered up, passengers mostly unregistered. The ferry was built in Japan to carry 608. In 1999, their supreme court revealed that Doña Paz had carried 4000, after two stops!
* A young adult adventure by Richard Peck, utilizes Titanic’s history in a unique manner. “Ghosts I Have Been” is very good for any age.