Saturday, April 14, 2012

Titanic Remembered

Today and tomorrow mark the 100th anniversary of the maiden voyage and sinking of the RMS Titanic. In 1912, this was widely held as the largest and grandest ship in the world - a floating luxury hotel, including everything from a swimming ("bathing") pool to a posh French cafe.

Titanic has fired my imagination ever since I read A Night to Remember by Walter Lord in high school. It was one of those stories of catastrophic irony, where everything aligned just so, and concluded in one of the worst maritime disasters in history. It brought out the worst and best in people faced with tragedy.

And that is why I think I am so captivated by this ship. Faced with a tragedy, people can do incredible, noble things that renew my faith in humanity. Consider Mrs. Isidor Straus, who refused to escape Titanic into a lifeboat, and thereby abandon her husband of some 42 years. That's love, people.

Also consider the wealthy American businessman Benjamin Guggenheim who, realizing Titanic was sinking, was overheard to say,

"We've dressed up in our best and are prepared to go down like gentlemen. Tell my wife, if it should happen that my secretary and I both go down, tell her I played the game out straight to the end. No woman shall be left aboard this ship because Ben Guggenheim was a coward."

That's guts I can only aspire to have. Tonight, I'll be remembering those stories of courage, and the millions of others that happen every day to make me believe in the human race again. 'Cause people can be amazing.

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