April 14, 2012

M is for...(In) Memoriam

Before I get into what I mean by the title '(IN) MEMORIAM', may I suggest that you click play on the mp3 just below to get the full effect (it provides an appropriate soundtrack* for today's post):

Nearer My God to Thee

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Now, I know that many of you are probably sick to death of hearing about the 100th Anniversary of the Titanic sinking, but I wanted to write about it so... There is just so much to learn from history and it's important to remember events like this so we don't repeat them. The Titanic sinking is a modern-day tragedy with hubris at its core. We can all learn from that, wouldn't you agree? Here's how hubris brought about the completely avoidable sinking of the RMS Titanic:

• racing across the Atlantic at breakneck speed to prove a point
• ignoring multiple warnings from other ships about ice in their path
• cutting corners to leave more room for finery, to be seen as the most luxurious of ocean liners, which meant that there were not enough lifeboats for even a third of the ship's passengers and crew (which they proceeded to lower into the ocean only half full)
• those with money and status were the first to be loaded into the lifeboats (women and children, primarily) while most in steerage (Third Class) were not even really given a chance at survival

Pride, arrogance, proving a point, cutting corners for appearance's sake, playing God and deciding whose lives were worth more than others... We all know the story, but it bears remembering. Why is it so important to rehash this tragedy? Here's the reason in all its stupid glory: NOT just a movie.

The Details:
April 10, 1912→ RMS Titanic sets sail from Southhampton with 2,200 passengers and crew
April 14, 1912→ RMS Titanic strikes an iceberg about 400 miles south of Newfoundland
April 15, 1912→ in the very early hours of the morning (0220), RMS Titanic officially sinks

1,517 lives were lost, most to hypothermia. Of the 700 or so lives saved, the majority were First Class passengers, then Second Class, and a small number from Third Class. The greatest percentage of those saved were women and children. Only about 20% of male passengers aboard the RMS Titanic survived.

You can view a passenger manifest broken down by class by following this link. They've got a wealth of information pertaining to many of the passengers→ photos, where they boarded, their ticket fare, their occupation, and whether or not they were rescued.


My husband and I were fortunate enough to visit the Titanic Exhibition in Las Vegas a few years back. I was a little apprehensive, thinking that this so-called exhibit set where it was on the Vegas strip could end up being a totally disrespectful sideshow. Quite the opposite, actually. Sure there was a gift shop, and sure you could have your picture taken on the Grand Staircase (which we did→ you can see the pic here), but all in all it was very respectful and very informative, in my opinion.

When we entered the exhibit, we were given this information about real Titanic passengers:






















Once we reached the end of the exhibit—which had artefacts retrieved from the sunken ship**, more info about the passengers, and a piece of the ship's hull—we found out what happened to the people on our cards. Major Archibald Willingham Butt (left) died in the sinking, and his body was sadly not recovered. Mrs. George Dunton Widener (right) was rescued in Lifeboat 4 and lived until 1937. We didn't even know these people, but I was really anxious to learn what happened to them. I was saddened to hear that one of our passengers hadn't survived. This was not merely a sick sideshow.

100 years later there are still lessons to be learned from this tragedy, as is usually the case with historical events like this. If nothing else, take a moment today to think about the 1,517 lives lost.

P.S. I'm currently reading Fateful by Claudia Gray, a story of the Titanic with a paranormal twist.
P.S.S. Notice how I made no mention of Celine's My Heart Will Go On (until now)? You're welcome.
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* This hymn was allegedly the final song played by the RMS Titanic band as it sank into the ocean.
** Some would argue that this is like desecrating a grave. I'm not sure how I feel about it, though.

14 comments:

  1. God bless the lives loss. That song makes me cry. Thank you for this post.

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  2. Oh, that's so sad. My sister went to see the Titanic movie in 3D last night, but we had no idea that it's the hundredth anniversary. The song was heart-wrenching.

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  3. Thank you for this post, Jaime. It's never too many posts when they're all as respectful as this one. I wonder how much we've really learned from Titanic. I wonder at what we overlook too often for the sake of comfort. This is an excellent reminder and eye-opener.

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  4. I love reading, learning, seeing the history of the Titanic. Good for you for getting to see the exhibit (I'm a little jealous!)I doubt I'll see the 3-D remake on the big screen (NOT a fan of 3D), but I am tempted. LOVED that movie!

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    1. The 3D is...minimal, really. It's just an excuse to put this back in theaters. I'm glad it came back, though, because I'd not watched the whole film since I was twelve, and intervening years made a big difference in how I understood it!

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  5. This is a great post on the Titanic. Thanks for sharing :)

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  6. Excellent post, Jaime! Some interesting facts here, that might not be widely known. And while the movie did a great job recapping some of the details, much of it was still lost to Hollywood - and it's too bad many use it as their "source" for all things Titanic.
    Such a sad story - and one that could've been totally avoided. But as you said, hopefully, we'll learn from it.

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  7. I'm still amazed that there are kids today that don't realize this actually happened. Wow. It must have been quite a sobering experience to walk through the Titanic Exhibit. Fascinating from a historical viewpoint, but so tragic too. Thanks for sharing this, Jaime.

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  8. So, after seeing the film (again...I was in 7th grade when it came out and saw it five times in the theater during the original release) this afternoon, I said to Mr. S, half-joking, that all you have to do is play that song and I'm conditioned to start crying. And then I hit play above and...yeah, no, that's completely true. As much as I love Leo and always have/will, I have never cried at Jack's death in the film. The montage set to this song in the movie, though, with the Strausses in bed together and the Irish woman in steerage putting her children to bed and Mr. Andrews setting the clock is by far the saddest part--because those people were real. Even at 12, I was invested in them in a way that I never was in the fictional characters. And seeing the film today, as an adult, on the anniversary...I understood the scope of the tragedy in a way I wasn't able to as a kid. It makes me wonder how modern-day tragedies will be seen in a hundred years--the chief difference being, we have all this video footage of anything bad that happens now, so I wonder if that will make it seem more real to people in the future than Titanic sometimes does to people now. Thanks for a thoughtful post!

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  9. Visiting from the A to Z Challenge & really enjoyed this post. You're right, the music did set the tone. The exhibit you and husband went to sounds like it was very moving. Nice post.

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  10. I'll be curious to hear what you think of FATEFUL... that book has had me intrigued for awhile now. I'm not a huge Titanic buff, but I was a teenager when the movie came out and saw it repeatedly, thanks mostly to Leo. My, he's aged well. :)

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  11. I wasn't aware of some of these facts. It's was truly a tragic and, as you said, avoidable, accident.

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  12. You are so right about what history can teach us and should teach us to ensure that we do not repeat mistakes from the past.
    I wanted to go to the exhibit when it was in Paris but didn't get the chance. It seems that it was done in a very "emotional" manner as well as historical which I think really works to show people what events meant.
    Thanks for sharing, Jaime :D

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  13. Titantic is the current cover story on two magazines we get, and I have been fielding constant questions from my 6 year old. I love all the hullabaloo coming up because of the anniversary. It is an endlessly fascinating story to me. Did you hear Julian Fellowes (Downton Abbey writer) is writing a Titanic series??? Gush. I already know I will love it.

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