Thursday, September 01, 2005

Titanic 20 Years Later

20 years ago today a U.S.-French expedition headed by Dr. Robert Ballard found the wreck of Titanic. I don't remember what I was doing when the announcement was made, but I was fascinated by the images of the wreck. One in particular touched me: a delicate teacup sitting upright on a massive boiler, as though someone had set it down for a minute.

For me, this was the second time Titanic touched my life. The first was when I read Walter Lord's A Night to Remember in junior high school. I never got over the emotional impact of that book, and seeing the wreck renewed my interest in this beautiful ship and her disastrous death. Now in addition to a tragedy she was also a huge forensic puzzle.

Today, 20 years after her wreck was found and 93 years after her sinking, she is most famous ship (and shipwreck) of our time. Titanic societies around world continue to study her and preserve her memory. Many who have explored the wreck say Titanic has a presence, that it seems as if she doesn't want to be forgotten, as if she wants us to remember her short life, and find clues to her tragic death. Even those who have only seen pictures of the wreck are touched by it. It may be true. I think Daniel Allen Butler, author of Unsinkable: the Full Story of RMS Titanic, said it best:

"Once the Titanic gets into your life she never, ever leaves."

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