April 14, 1912 is a date that went down in history, along with the RMS Titanic.
2, 223 people were aboard the ship and only 710 survived.
History has always been a love of mine, but certain historical events fascinate me: China’s Han Dynasty, the Bubonic plague, the Boston Tea Party, the British colonization of India, the sinking of the Titanic, Black Friday, the Holocaust, the Cold War.
Growing up, one of my best friends was so in love with the Titanic and its story; when I was 13 I saw the 1997 hit movie “Titanic” for the first time at her house. It was that very day I think that some of her love for the Titanic spilled over into me. And when my family went to the Titanic Artifact Exhibition I was amazed at everything and hearing/reading stories from survivors. In the exhibition, each person was given a “Boarding Pass” with information about a passenger who was on board the Titanic on its first and last voyage. I was a little girl in third class from Bulgaria… I did not survive the sinking…
This year, being the 100th anniversary of the sinking of that great ship, I couldn’t help being a nerd and keeping up with the latest stories, articles, images of the RMS Titanic. I even followed the Titanic Voyage twitter handle in hopes of getting more insight into that day in history. And tonight I’m watching the specials about the Titanic on the PBS Explorer channel. Nerd alert.
However, instead of watching Leo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet on the big screen in 3-D, I chose to keep it classic yesterday and watch the film, A Night to Remember (1958), based on the novel by Walter Lord (1955). He interviewed survivors, read memoirs, and wrote up this classic novel that is the most accurate work to date.
Being the nerd that I am, I sat there for the whole 123 minutes, on the edge of the couch, paying attention to every detail, every face aboard the ship, every bit of dialogue. And although I knew the fate of most of the people on board, I cried when the husband kissed his wife and children goodbye for the last time. I cried when the elderly couple decided to stay together onboard, holding onto one other for dear life. I cried when shipbuilder Thomas Andrews paced the floor of the first class sitting room, choosing to stay on board the ship he helped design. I cried when Captain Smith retired to the bridge and died as the ship sank. I cried when the orchestra continued to play, ending with “Nearer my God to Thee.” And I cried when the ship sank and all those poor souls were afloat in the frigid Atlantic water screaming and crying out to be saved. I cried, for crying out loud!!!
For such a momentous occasion in history, how much do we really contemplate the sinking of the Titanic? I don’t know about you, but until yesterday I had never really thought about how horrible it truly was. Regardless of social class, I think everyone suffered immensely that night. The panic, the pushing and shoving… the eagerness to get to a lifeboat… the desperation of husbands to get their wives and children off the ship safely… the icy cold water (that’s the thing that REALLY gets me!) … the selfishness of the people in the lifeboats not wanting to go back for survivors… the cries and screams of everyone. And then there is the good- Officer Charles Lightoller who exemplifies bravery at its finest… going back for survivors, staying cool, calm & collected as he gives orders… the “Unsinkable” Molly Brown keeping spirits and motivation high… Miss Rosenbaum’s musical pig.
Although it was probably the biggest historical anniversary that will be celebrated this year, I feel as if I “celebrated” it right and appropriately paid tribute to the HMS Titanic.
Did you do anything special to commemorate the Titanic? Do you know any survivors? Are you a history fan like I am? What would YOU have done if you were on the ship that fateful night?
(((Side note- after watching something as emotionally wracking as that movie before bed, I must say I had some crazy dreams which included a wedding, a funeral, and a cruise ship. Kind of symbolic, no? :p )))