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Life IS history in the making. Every word we say, everything we do becomes history the moment it is said or done. Life void of memories leaves nothing but emptiness. For those who might consider history boring, think again: It is who we are, what we do and why we are here. We are certainly individuals in our thoughts and deeds but we all germinated from seeds planted long, long ago.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Titanic - Day 5: Tragedy Strikes

This Day in History: April 15, 1912



The unthinkable happened. The unimaginable occurred. At 2:20 am (2 hrs 40 mins after striking the iceberg), the ocean vessel once deemed unsinkable leaves over 1,500 souls in the depths of her final wake. The water in the area in which Titanic sank was lethally cold, a temperature of 28 °F (−2 °C). A human body will perish in fifteen minutes or less in such water, even for people young and physically fit. 
The noise of the people in the water screaming, yelling, and crying was a tremendous shock to the occupants of the lifeboats, many of whom had up to that moment believed that everyone had escaped before the ship sank. As Lawrence Beesley later wrote, the cries "came as a thunderbolt, unexpected, inconceivable, incredible. No one in any of the boats standing off a few hundred yards away can have escaped the paralysing shock of knowing that so short a distance away a tragedy, unbelievable in its magnitude, was being enacted, which we, helpless, could in no way avert or diminish."
Source: en.wikipedia.org
 

After the ship struck the iceberg in the North Atlantic, did men stand back while women and children were given priority access to the limited number of lifeboats? Was the Titanic disaster a “prime example of chivalry at sea?” It is known that the "women and children first" protocol was followed by some of the officers loading the lifeboats. Comparatively more women and children did survive that men. Famously, Titanic’s Captain Edward Smith "went down with his ship." But the kind of heroism displayed on the Titanic was an exception rather than the norm. In the aftermath, however, official blame for the tragedy was placed on Captain Smith and bridge crew, all of whom died.

Edward Smith, captain of Titanic, in 1911
In its last moments, the Titanic had severed itself into two pieces, breaking off from each other as the it went below into the depths of the sea. Both the bow and stern sections hurdled down to the murky ocean bottom at a rate of approximately 30 miles per hour, hitting bottom only 2.5 miles below.


Over the Titanic's grave hung a thin, smoky vapor, soiling the clear night. The glassy sea was littered with crates, deck chairs, planking, pilasters, and corklike rubbish that kept bobbing to the surface from somewhere now far below. Hundreds of swimmers thrashed the water, clinging to the wreckage and each other.

The temperature of the water was 28 degrees---well below freezing. To Second Officer Lightoller it felt like "a thousand knives" driven into his body. In water like this, lifebelts did no good.


('A Night to Remember' by Walter Lord, page 115)
Source: In the Bookcase
*****
Tragedy Strikes

 

Tragedy looms with the turn of the century as though history was waiting to cast its new shadows. Even the best of the best is not unsinkable, leaving nothing to be taken for granted.

At high noon, with a swift but sudden snap
The New York’s vast mooring ropes were no more
The Titanic slid past her within an inch
Setting the ship toward a distant shore

Deemed unsinkable with great renown
Alas, we embarked across the sea
Living, laughing, welcoming the fun
Trusting our lives to the ship’s safety

At twilight, voices sang, and dancers swayed
While music played on and on well into the night
Night lights billowing through the huge glass dome
Mirrored falling stars as a sublunary sight

Invigorated by breaths under the stars
Alas, we’re gliding across the sea
Loving, living, laughing, enjoying the fun
Unsuspecting of what was to be

At dawn, despite urgent warnings of icebergs
The ship became swallowed by the sea
Hundreds of cries echoed across the icy cold
As watery graves silenced each plea

Enveloped within tranquil darkness
Alas, we’re slipping under the sea
Dying, crying, forgetting the fun
Leaving behind only memory

At noon, the water is a dead calm
Holding lives spared safe and sound yet torn
Relentless wails of joy and sadness
Pierce the souls of those lost and forlorn

©2013 Awakenings
Sharla Lee Shults

Distress signals were sent by wireless, rockets and lamp, but none of the ships that responded was near enough to reach her before she sank. A nearby ship, Californian, which was the last to have been in contact with her before the collision, saw her flares but failed to assist. Around 4 am, RMS Carpathia arrived on the scene in response to Titanic's earlier distress calls. About 710 people survived the disaster and were conveyed by Carpathia to New York, Titanic's original destination, while 1,500 people lost their lives. Carpathia's captain described the place as an ice field that had included 20 large bergs measuring up to 200 feet (61 m) high and numerous smaller bergs, as well as ice floes and debris from Titanic; passengers described being in the middle of a vast white plain of ice, studded with icebergs.
Source: en.wikipedia.org