Monday, April 16, 2012

Saturday was the 100th anniversary of the day the unsinkable became the unthinkable. The picture shows the RMS Titanic at Southampton in 1912, shortly before leaving on its maiden voyage.

I've always been fascinated by the disaster. This isn't history told with dry facts and figures. It is primarily a story of real people and how they reacted in a crisis.

While there are some reports of cowardly actions, many more speak of courage. And even most of the actions some call cowardly are at least understandable. For example, 21-year-old Daniel Buckley jumped into a lifeboat with several other men while the crew was loading women and children. The sailors forced the other men out, but a woman threw a shawl over Daniel as he lay sniveling in the bottom of the boat, and he escaped notice. Is that cowardice? Maybe. But I can sympathize with his desire to live.

I can also understand the different reaction from Mrs. Isador Straus, the wife of one of the owners of Macy's Department Store. When someone suggested that her husband accompany her in a lifeboat because of his advanced age (67), he refused to go before the other men. Mrs. Straus decided to stay with her husband, saying something like, "We have lived together for many years. Where you go, I go." They were last seen sitting side by side on deck chairs.

The Straus children were grown and out on their own. Their mother's decision would be hard on them, but they could go on. So I can understand her decision.

But I can't understand why Mrs. Hudson Allison chose to stay. By doing so, she orphaned her 11-month-old son and condemned her 2-year-old daughter to an awful death. The boy entered a boat with his nurse, and the girl was last seen clinging to her mother's leg--the only first class child who died. (In fairness to Mrs. Allison, there is conflicting testimony on this issue, with one eyewitness saying she was frantically searching for her husband and son until it was too late.)

Mr. Straus was a hero, as were the many other men who stood aside without protest to let the women and children go first. Then there is Edith Evans. When she and a married friend reached one of the last remaining lifeboats, there was only room for one more. So Edith told her friend to go first because she had children at home who needed their mother. The friend survived, but Edith did not.

Also among the heroes were Captain Smith (died), Second Officer Lightoller (survived), and the many other crew members who remained calm and worked feverishly to save as many lives as possible.

These people were true heroes and should be remembered that way. They willingly gave, or at least risked, their lives for others.

But the number of lives they saved is insignificant next to the number saved when Jesus willingly gave up his life. He died for all, although not everyone takes advantage of his sacrifice. And there is another distinction between Jesus and the heroes of the Titanic disaster. Many deny Jesus' heroic act, and others persecute or vilify his followers.

I'm grateful for the heroes of the Titanic.

And I'm even more grateful for Jesus.

1 comment:

Jan Keur said...

Very interesting.

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