Remembering the Titanic: 100 years in the making

Olivia Goudy, Center Spread Editor
I love the story of Jack and Rose as much as the next person—well, that is if you appreciate James Cameron’s 90s masterpiece. It’s a great film that features one of the biggest movie songs to date, a lot of special effects and some phenomenal acting.

But let’s remember that Jack and Rose didn’t actually exist.

Instead, take a minute to remember the 1,514 souls who perished in the icy waters of the Atlantic in the wee hours of April 15, 1912, almost 100 years ago.

It’s a sad story of the arrogance of man—an arrogance that foolishly sacrificed over 1,500 men, women and children, crew and passengers alike. Many of the passengers were just immigrants from Britain and Ireland looking for a better life in the States.

By now, thanks to Cameron and schooling, you know the story of the White Star Line’s doomed vessel. As you read, try to look through the eyes of one of the 710 survivors, or in the memories of the 1514 deceased.

Imagine yourself as a father onboard with two young children, much like the recently published tale of brothers Michel and Edmond Navratil, ages 4 and 2 respectively.

In the chaos of the sinking, their father put them on a lifeboat, hoping for their safety. The lifeboat was lowered and set adrift for hours until the Carpathia arrived.

Their father didn’t make it onto a lifeboat. He went down with the ship and 1,513 other passengers.

Once in the States, it was unclear who they were. Unable identify themselves, the newspapers referred to them as “Louis and Lola,” hoping someone could identify them.

It was a month later that their mother was located and the family reunited, fatherless.

That’s just one of countless stories of survivors. The men and women who died—they were mothers, fathers, wives, husbands, brothers and sisters. And they wouldn’t be coming back.

Now imagine that you’re an elderly woman with a loving husband and a chance to live—but you turn it down to honor your wedding vows.

The story of Isidor, 67, and Ida, 63, is a bittersweet one. They had traveled to Germany and were on the Titanic to return home when the unthinkable happened.

Being a first class woman, Ida was given the opportunity to board first. But faced with the thought of leaving her husband, she refused and sent her maid in her place on the lifeboat.

They had lived and loved together, and she wanted them to face the end together, much to the dismay of surrounding passengers.

In the aftermath, Isidor’s body was found in the icy waters. After a delayed funeral, due to the unsuccessful efforts to find Ida’s body, they continued the service in New York City where he was buried—alone.

They might have had the privilege—if that’s what you would call it—to be together until the end. But there were many marriages and families that were ripped apart. Some didn’t even get to say goodbye.

Although you can’t actually imagine yourself as an infant, try to imagine growing up hearing your mother and brother recount the tales.

Milvina Dean was just nine weeks old when her family wished to immigrate to Kansas to begin business as tobacconists. On the dreadful night, she and her mother and brother were able to make it onto a lifeboat. But their father, Bertram, wasn’t as fortunate.

The widowed and fatherless Dean family moved back to England where Milvina went on to live in Southampton. She died at the age of 97 in May, 2009. She was the last survivor of the Titanic.

Those are some of the many stories of the real men, women and children who lived and died through one of history’s most catastrophic nights.

We live in a world now where news is available at the touch of a button. Social media, especially, has news coming to us by the second.

But imagine a time where you had to wait days to hear whether a loved one was alive or not. You first hear that there’s been a horrific accident. Then you wait days for a partial list to be published in the newspaper. It honestly could be weeks until you’re informed that your loved one won’t be coming home.

All around, the legacy that Titanic unfortunately leaves behind is a sad one. “None but a heart of stone would be unmoved in the presence of such anguish,” reported the British Army’s newspaper, “The War Cry,” following the tragedy.

They’ve re-released James Cameron’s film in 3D on a temporary basis in theatres as a commemorative effort.

Whether you dab at your eyes with a tissue and watch the credits roll to “My Heart Will Go On,” or sit and make fun of “I’ll never let go Jack”—as I’m sure many men who’ve been dragged there by their women will do—take a moment to remember the real men, women and children who died on April 15, 1912.

They’ve re-released James Cameron’s film in 3D on a temporary basis in theatres as a commemorative effort.

Whether you dab at your eyes with a tissue and watch the credits roll to “My Heart Will Go On,” or sit and make fun of “I’ll never let go Jack”—as I’m sure many men who’ve been dragged there by their women will do—take a moment to remember the real men, women and children who died on April 15, 1912.

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