I is for Iceberg
I know I’m a couple of days ahead, but I had to write this post today because I just dread to think what the media will be making of the anniversary itself on 15th April.
As you will all no doubt know already, it will be the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic on 15th April 2012. I don’t know what the media in the USA and round the rest of the world are making of it, but here in the UK it is going mad with anniversary this, commemorative that, coincidence this, investigation the other and it is driving me crazy.
Now, don’t get me wrong, the sinking of the Titanic was a huge tragedy with the loss of 1500 lives and for what it meant for the whole of maritime history, but the fuss that is being made about it this year is way out of proportion and makes a mockery of the other maritime disasters before and since.
I don’t know what it is with people nowadays and their need to delve into the depths of every nook and cranny of a disaster or tragedy like this. I am all for marking the sad occasion with prayers and maybe a memorial service to those who lost their lives, but I really do object to the endless dissection of every bit of it on TV. Yes it was sad, yes it was a tragedy, yes lessons needed to be learned from it, yes it changed the face of seafaring travel thereafter, yes the survivors were extremely lucky to get out of it alive, but please, why do we have to have it plastered all over the place? It’s not even the anniversary yet! And what about the other ships that sank with equal losses? There was the SS Mont Blanc that exploded near Halifax, Canada in 1917? On that occasion over 2000 people lost their lives and more than 9000 more were injured. There was the SS Sultana that sank on the Mississippi in 1865 too. 1800 people died on that occasion but we never hear about it and to my knowledge, there hasn’t been a worldwide memorial to either one of them. Maybe it’s the Hollywood influence; if it’s big enough to attract the attention of Tinseltown then it’s big enough for us to make a mountain out of.
Today marks the day that the Titanic set off from Southampton 100 years ago and made its way to its date with destiny in the shape of an iceberg in the Atlantic Ocean. There was a memorial service at the docks today, which is fair enough, but as part of that service they played a recording of the Titanic’s whistle. Why??! It’s precisely that kind of thing I object to when I talk about “grief junky-ism”; public grief over things we are not personally involved with and a morbid fascination with tragedy that’s not ours. We need to stop this kind of thing because it’s the start of a very slippery slope. We won’t be able to move very soon for memorials and tributes for every single thing that goes wrong in future.
You could even say it’s the tip of the iceberg…..