04/15/12 It’s fascinating the grip on the imagination the sinking of Titanic has on us still – even after 100 years. Why? There have been other disasters which certainly have killed more people. Part of it must be nostalgia and the tricks of memory. The tragedy so obviously marks the end of an era. We can see the bright line being crossed here. An agrarian, largely peaceful latter part of 19th century for Europe and America is closing and a mechanized, murderous 20th century is starting. WW I is only a couple years away. The faith in technology (ie the notion of an “unsinkable” ship) is the same faith – in railroads, machine guns, poison gas – that makes possible the wholesale slaughter of the Western Front. Looking back, after the upheaval and useless deaths of so many thousands, the years before the war (and the sinking of Titanic) must have seemed impossibly idyllic.
It was a beautiful Saturday evening in Spring along the banks of the Potomac last night, at any rate. The memorial to the men of the Titanic in SW was crowded with visitors for the 100th anniversary of the doomed liner’s sinking.
[Votive candles inside bags printed with the names of men who died aboard Titanic.]
[DCFD boat floats down the Potomac as the sun sets.]
[Ghost ship. Images of Titanic were projected on an apartment building close to the memorial after sundown.]
[The crowd on the lawn watched the slideshow as loudspeakers played “Alexander’s Rag Time Band” and other songs that were performed as the ship sank.]