As we all know, 100 years ago today the Titanic struck an iceberg. By the following morning over 1,500 people were dead.
The horror of the event, it seems to me, has largely faded by the passing of time. Does anyone really stop and reflect on the fear and suffering experienced by the doomed passengers and crew? Or the sadness of the families who lost loved ones in the disaster?
When someone says Titanic, most people probably think of the movie with Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet. Most people would rather think of a love scene between Jack & Rose than 1,500 soon-to-be-dead people gasping for air in dark, deep and icy waters.
At this very moment there are several cruise ships, on Titanic memorial cruises, heading to the spot where the cruise ship sank. There are many accounts of smiling passengers in period costumes similar to what the first class passengers were wearing in 1912, with women in corsets and men in top hats. Lots of excited passengers enjoying their cruises; fine meals, cocktails, dancing, and laughter.
This seems rather macabre to me. When they find themselves at the watery grave tonight where 1,500 souls perished, will they be remembering the real event or celebrating the Titanic movie, now in 3-D?
Carol Burnett said "death plus time equals comedy." And Angela Carter said "comedy is tragedy which happens to others." Both thoughts, I suppose, are true. One of my Dad's favorite saying when things went wrong was "other than that Mrs. Lincoln, how did you like the play?" Yes, its funny as long as it's not your family and it happened long ago.
But the Titanic is not the last cruise ship where someone died. Over the past 100 years, there have been hundreds of maritime incidents which have accounted for the deaths of thousands of passengers and crew members. Many fires, collisions, and sinkings - not to mention over-boards, violence and crimes - have occurred during cruises since the Titanic sank.
When I think of the Titanic, my mind goes to the tragedies suffered by hundreds of people whose have lost loved ones during cruises in the last decade or so.
In 1998, Amy Bradley disappeared during a Royal Caribbean cruise. In 2004, Merrian Carver disappeared during a Celebrity cruise and Ashley Barnett died under mysterious circumstances on a Carnival cruise ship. In 2005, George Smith disappeared during his honeymoon cruise. In 2006 Richard Liffridge died in a fire on a Princess cruise. And last year, Disney youth counselor Rebecca Coriam disappeared from the Disney Wonder. In the last 10 years, there have been over 170 people who have disappeared from cruise ships. The families of the missing and dead are living through their own Titanic horror every day.
This morning I clicked on the web cam on Giglio Porto, showing the Costa Concordia on its side, under dark angry clouds. There is nothing funny about this latest disaster. A 100 years from now, will there be memorial cruises to Giglio? Will the cruise passengers be dancing and laughing then?