Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Titanic tragedy

On Monday April 15th 1912 the worlds largest passenger liner sunk to the bottom of the North Atlantic Ocean, killing 1, 514 people.  April 15th 2012 marked the 100th anniversary of the dreadful sinking of the mighty ship.  Like so many others, I’ve been drawn to the ship, to the passengers, to the dead. What must it have been like, knowing the luxurious trip, the chance for some for a better life would end in horror.

I’ve seen the footage of the passengers boarding the ship. The wealthy led in first, then the lower-class last so as not to have them mingle with the upper-class. Most of the lower-class passengers carried their belongings with them in hopes of a new life in America.  Their life would come to a horrifying halt as they were locked up while the wealthy boarded the life boats. I can only imagine how they must have felt. What they must have been thinking.  These were women with children, young children. Young men wanting to start a new life. They wanted something better, but instead once again they were treated like nothing more than street rats.  It’s so sad. They were eventually released, but most of the boats had been launched by the time they reached the deck.
Having grown up poor, I know what its like to be shunned, to have others look down at me. I know what its like to want to doo something better for myself. Luckily I had that opportunity.
I think about all those children, clinging to their mother’s breast, terrified of what was happening around them. The young boys who weren’t allowed to board with the women can children because they were male and considered a man. How is a thirteen year old boy a man? He’s still a baby. I would have fought to have my son board with me. I couldn’t leave him behind. What a tough choice those mothers would have had to make, leaving the sinking ship, their female children clinging to them while her son stood watch, tears in his eyes. And never seeing her son again. How awful that must have been. And the guilt that mother must have felt.
Thomas Andrews, the architected who designed the Titanic was aboard the ship that fateful day. But unlike his rich counterparts, he chose to stay on the ship as it sank.  The last sighting of him was standing by the fireplace, staring up at the painting of the ship. He must have felt so much shame.
J. Bruce Ismay, the chairman of the White Star Line, the company that built the Titanic, was not as gallant as Andrews. He chose to sneak aboard one of the boats that would take him to safety. His life was hell after that day and as well it should have been. He was not any better than those other men who had to stand by and watch boat after boat with their loved ones, drift away.
So many lives were lost that day in April, a cold grave those innocent souls would have as the ship of hopes and dreams sunk to bottom of the ocean at 2:20 A.M.
With the water temperature of only 28 °F (−2 °C). Almost all of those in the water died of hypothermia or cardiac arrest within minutes or drowned. Still, it must have felt like hours. A few were pulled into lifeboats, but the others were left to die.
A Canadian ship out of Halifax was sent to pick up the bodies. They gave each of them as much dignity as possible, but like in life, they were segregated into the wealthy and poor in death. It’s unfortunate that all lives aren’t treated equal, the wealthy and the poor equal.  But unfortunately that is how life goes.
While collecting the bodies, a young child was picked up, still in his clothing, and brought on board. He was no more than a year and a half and touched the hearts of all those on the chip that they decided to give the child a proper burial should his family not claim the body. He was given a beautiful ceremony and was laid to rest in the Halifax graveyard. A tall stone was erected in his honor. It wasn't until this year that the child was identified as Sydney Leslie Goodwin.
I sit in my warm house, watching document after document of the life and times of the Titanic and that fateful day it all ended. And my heart aches for the innocent lives that were lost.  In May my husband and I will be travelling to Halifax for business, but while we are there I intend to visit the graveyard where several of the dead were buried. I want to pay my respects to those who had a dream and would never have it fulfilled.
I think to myself how lucky I am to be living my dream of being an author. How lucky I am to have food on the table, a roof over my head, a warm bed to lie in. And I think that in the blink of an eye, it could all be lost.


B.J. Scott said...

Great post Shiela!
Like you, I was glued to my tv on the weekend watching documentaries and thinking about those who lost their lives on the Titanic.

Firetulip said...

Titanic was one tragic event after the other. First they ignored warnings from other ships that they ventured too far north to ice berg waters, then when they struck the iceberg and it was obvious that the unsinkable ship is going down and fast, they locked the steerage class to load the rich passengers and wouldn't allow them in their life boats. But what I found most disturbing was a post on American teenagers who are astound to discover that Titanic was actually all real. I'm sure they believe that Edward from Twilight is real, too.

Shiela Stewart said...

Hi B.J, and thanks for stopping in. I watched all the documents they had on the titanic week.


It really was. Before it ever got going there was a fire in the boiler area. Several people died making it. Someone was telling them not to send it out, unortunately nop one was listening.