Titanic still captivates 100 years after disaster

Photo courtesy of ibiblio.org
Photo courtesy of ibiblio.org

April 11, 2012

By Josh Oldham | Ranger Reporter

One hundred years ago, the Titanic sank when it collided with an iceberg on April 15, 1912. Yet, no other naval catastrophe has held the attention of the western world for such a long time. Even today, the movie Titanic, starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet, has been re-released in 3D format for theaters.

Why do so many people remember the sinking of the Titanic more than they do the sinking of the Britannic or the Lusitania? There are several facts aboutTitanic’s history to remember when asking that question.

According to www.titanic-facts.com <http://www.titanic-facts.com/> , the Titanic was built to be unsinkable. The White Star Line, the prominent British shipping company that owned the Titanic, sought to highly publicize the construction of the ship. The largest and safest ship built at the time, the Titanic shone as the highest achievement of nautical engineering until that point.

“There was a lot of hype before the voyage,” said Amarillo College student Charlie Clark.
Another point for consideration is how the warnings of frozen waters in the Titanic’s area went unheeded by the officers. Rather than slowing down or even stopping completely, the Titanic plowed ahead, full-throttle, trusting in the construction of the vessel.

“When we see this blatant hubris getting knocked down, we remember it more as a lesson,” Clark said.

The extreme loss of life also is a point that keeps the Titanic in the memories of the Western world. Titanic-facts.com reports that of the 2,228 people who boarded the Titanic for her maiden voyage, only 705 of the passengers survived. Of the 1,517 dead, only 306 bodies were recovered.

The human error in planning for emergency situations often is called into question as well. The Titanic, while capable of holding more than 3,000 people, only had enough lifeboats for 1,178 people. To make matters worse, in the panic, some lifeboats were not even half full when they were lowered into the water.

The shock and outrage of the public caused the world’s maritime leaders to create new entities that helped improve the safety of ships and their passengers, according to the Coast Guard Compass, the U.S. Coast Guard’s official blog. The Safety of Life at Sea Convention was conducted first in 1913, and today it still provides the standards for equipment used in emergencies. The changes helped to root the Titanic’s destruction in history books and therefore in the minds of generations to come.

It also should be noted that Hollywood has a hand in keeping the story of the Titanic alive in the minds of the current generation. Films such as A Night to Remember pay homage to the sinking of the Titanic and to historical accuracy. However, it is the 1997 film Titanic by James Cameron that most people remember.

“I think it’s because they made the movie and used Leonardo DiCaprio as a famous actor,” said Cheyenne Oelkers, an English major. “They romanticized it. It’s what society feeds on.”

There is a shock in the destruction of something built to be unsinkable, the outrage at the poor planning and loss of life, the sweeping changes that came as a result of its sinking and the romanticizing of its passengers. All of those factors serve to keep the Titanic in the minds of society even after a century has passed.

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