On this, the 105 anniversary of the April 10, 1912 sailing of the RMS Titanic, for her maiden and only voyage, my thoughts have been leaning toward the people who were on board, and particularly those who did not survive that fateful trip. The Titanic was the most amazing ship of it’s time, filled with luxuries beyond the imagination…at least in first class. Back then, people were separated into classes based on their social importance. It’s sad to think about that, because every person has value, and many of those in 3rd class, or steerage were considered expendable. Nevertheless, it was not just those in steerage who lost their lives when Titanic went down on April 12th, 1912.
As Titanic set sail on April 10th, here was much excitement. Those who were “lucky” enough to have secured passage, were to be envied. Of course, the rich and famous had no trouble paying for their passage, but the less fortunate had a different situation, and different accommodations. Many of the steerage passengers had spent their last penny to pay for their passage, and still they considered it money well spent, because they were heading to America for a better life. Little did any of the passengers in all three classes know that in just two days, their beautiful ship would be at the bottom of the ocean, along with many of her passengers and crew. It is here that I began to wonder what they were thinking as the ship sank beneath their feet, into the deep dark murky depths. I know most of them were just trying to find a way to get onto one of the life boats…of which there were too few by at least half, but did it also become that moment when they thought about what might have been for them…had they not taken this particular trip, on this particular ship. I think that anytime a person finds themselves faced with death, their thoughts turn to family, friends, and what might have been. Most luxury trips taken are for a few reasons…among them the scenery, a long awaited visit, or just the sheer luxury of this particular type of trip. No one really considers what might happen if things go wrong, or at the very least, we try not to think about it. Still, when the moment of emergency arrives, did the passengers of Titanic think that if only they had waited for Titanic’s next trip, they wouldn’t be here today…in this most horrible of situations, with so many others screaming in fear, because they knew they were about to die…unless a miracle happened for them.
Titanic was carrying 2,222 people (passengers and crew), when she set sail. Of those people only 706 would receive that miracle. For the rest, this would be the end of their life. Of the 706 survivors, 492 were passengers, and 214 were crew members, a fact that I find rather odd. The class distinctions were closer to expected, with 61% of first class passengers surviving, 42% of second class passengers surviving, and 24% of third class passengers surviving. That is a sad reality of a time when class was everything. I’m sure that all of these people felt that their lives were a tremendous gift, and I’m sure too that their lives changed in a big way. Still, I wonder about the final thoughts of the 1516 people who died that day. I’m sure they wished they had not taken the trip, and I’m sure that they regretted the fact that their family would be sad. It really doesn’t matter what they were thinking, I guess, because it was too late to change what was…for most of them anyway. For the holder of Ticket number 242154, it appears that it was not to late. The holder of that ticket is unknown, but they were given a full refund for their ticket, and it appears that they did not sail on Titanic. Perhaps, they had their ear to the Lord’s Word, and were told not to sail. Not knowing who this person was, we will never know for sure.
When I think of glaciers and icebergs, I often think of the Titanic. Sailing into an area that is filled with floating ice has a tendency to take your mind down that road. Of course, the icebergs we saw were not of the size that the Titanic hit, at least not the ones we got very near to. We were also traveling quite slowly, and in daylight, making it easier to see if there is a dangerous piece of ice that we need to maneuver around. Nevertheless, in the back of my mind, lived a little picture of Titanic sinking beneath the water. It wasn’t that I was afraid, because I wasn’t, but rather a matter of being able to relate to the situation the Titanic was in, and knowing that no one was doing anything about it, when it was the Titanic heading into a death trap. I was thankful that so much more is known today about the damage that icebergs can cause, because it makes it possible for us to get close to these amazing natural ice sculptures, to view their amazing beauty, and yet, still remain safe.
As we sailed closer and closer to the Margerie Glacier, in Glacier Bay, I found myself completely in awe of the beauty God had created from ice. No human could have created something so grand. As we came closer and closer, I couldn’t stop snapping pictures. I wanted to get every possible angle of the glacier. I wanted to forever fix it in my memory files. I wanted to be able to picture it in my mind…and I can. I think I will always be able to see the stunning blue color and the amazing crevasses. There is never enough time to see it for as long as you would like to, and all too soon, we had to move on. In all, we saw close up views of three glaciers, and distant views of countless others. The ice filled water began to disappear, and we couldn’t see the icebergs anymore. I found that I was feeling a little bit sad that our time at the glaciers was over. It felt like we had only just arrived, and now we were leaving.
Of course, I’ve seen glaciers before, but I simply don’t remember them being as beautiful as the ones we saw in Alaska. The colors were so stunning. It was almost like the blues were painted onto the ice. The Margerie Glacier is 21 miles long, beginning on Mount Root, at the Alaska/Canada border, and it is a mile wide. The sheer size of the glacier is amazing to me. And, of course, the other glaciers in Alaska are of similar size. The colors are that amazing blue that you see in the ocean waves. I loved looking at the glaciers and icebergs. It seemed so peaceful there, and yet in reality, they are constantly changing…they are a work in progress. Each day, chunks fall off, and they add snow often, so the beauty changes and changes. But one thing is for sure, no matter how they change, they never lose that beauty. And that is the memory that will live on in my memory files.
My dad was always quite the kidder. He loved to joke around with his girls. He was also a bit of a history buff. He loved to travel, and in our many travels, his favorite thing was to stop at historical markers…especially the Oregon Trail. I’m pretty sure I have seen every marker for that one there is. Obviously, we didn’t have a good appreciation for some of his history information, like we should have, and might have today, but one historical fact that was of interest to all of my dad’s daughters was, Christopher Columbus. I’m pretty sure Christopher Columbus was my dad’s favorite historical character.
I can’t say for sure when this story got started, but I can tell you that I was pretty young. The way the story went is this. Dad would begin by telling us that according to historical records, Christopher Columbus sailed the ocean blue in 1492…and you all know the rest of the story, right? Well, not exactly. You see, the story continues like this. Dad would tell us, “In reality, Chris didn’t discover America.” We would say, “He didn’t?” Dad would answer, “Nope, I did, but I was a nice guy, so I let Chris take the credit for it.”
We probably believed this tall tale early on, but after a while, we just went along with the joke because Dad liked it…and so did we. I think he always thought the idea of sailing across the ocean back in those days, in search of a new route or a new world, would be an exciting venture. He always had the heart of an adventurer, a fact that blessed his whole family with the ability to see many places. Dad loved to take us there…wherever there might be this time. And I think he always loved the idea of seeing beyond the normal range of vision…like a sailor looking out over the bow, or a mountain climber looking off across the mountain range from the top. It was a vision that would bless his whole family.
I think my dad might have been a lot like Christoper Columbus. I think they both had a way of looking at things that goes deeper than average. A way of being able to pull the extraordinary from the ordinary. Maybe it was fantasy, but I don’t think there is anything wrong with a little bit of that in life.