This post remembers and honors all those who lost their lives on the Titanic 100 years ago today. It gives me chills to imagine what those people felt as they waited for the boat to sink, and the unimaginable bravery of the band who carried on playing until the end …
The world hasn’t forgotten that 1,500 people drowned on an unsinkable ship. According to an article by Andrew Wilson in the Smithsonian, the name “Titanic” is the third most widely recognized word in the world after “God”, and “Coca-Cola”
Did you know that J. Bruce Ismay, chairman of the White Star Line (the company which built the Titanic), was on the ship when it sank?
Frances Wilson wrote in her book How to Survive the Titanic: The Sinking of J. Bruce Ismay (HarperCollins):
J. Bruce Ismay died on the night that his ship hit the iceberg, April 14, 1912. He died again in his bedroom 25 years later.
From the moment he jumped into a lifeboat along with the women and children, leaving 1,500 passengers behind to perish in the icy Atlantic, Ismay’s was a posthumous existence. His honor went down with the ship.
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Many Titanic survivors felt an overwhelming need to tell their tales, to turn the chaos into words, precisely because, as the second-class passenger Lawrence Beesley put it, the enormity of it all made “language … totally inadequate.”
Ismay, however, never willingly spoke of the Titanic again. He gave no account of the sinking in writing, either publicly or privately. When asked by the U.S. and British inquiries into the Titanic to describe the part he played in determining her excessive speed (it was understood that Ismay controlled the captain), her inadequate number of lifeboats (it had been Ismay’s decision to keep the number to a minimum so as not to clutter the decks), and the circumstances that led to his leaving behind him a leaking vessel teeming with panicked passengers, he responded less like a Captain of Industry than a figure in an absurdist drama.
“There were no passengers there to take on,” he explained when asked about those left on board when he jumped into the lifeboat.
“I did not look to see,” he said when to describe the final moments of his ship. **
“I really have not asked,” was his response to whether the wireless operators who had kept sending SOS messages until they were waist-high in water were now alive or dead.
Read the article here
** Dorothy Gibson the twenty-two-year-old silent movie star who watched the Titanic sink from a nearby lifeboat said, “No one can describe the frightful final sounds from the ship,” according to the article in the Smithsonian.