We lived in Cobh, Ireland for a while. Cobh was the Titanic’s last port of call before the iceberg, and every year they have a memorial on April 15th, where they read the names of the Irish who got on the boat in Cobh and who subsequently lost their lives. I went one year, and it was actually fairly heart-rending, particularly where they had stories to go along with the names. There are not, fortunately, that many stories, but there are a few, including one about an entire family of seven young men were lost, whose names were only known because a bottle with a prescription with their names on it survived the wreck where they themselves didn’t. I’d have liked to have gone down there today to see what they did for the centennial, but wasn’t able to.
We did, however, catch a few minutes of James Cameron’s documentary about finding and exploring the wreck, which was pretty cool.
Except there was one bit where they’d just done something fairly awesome and were very excited, and one guy said to the camera, “It’s 6:16pm on September 11th, 2001,” to record the moment when they’d done this thing. And my stomach dropped, and I said, “Oh, God.” Ted didn’t twig quite as fast as I did, and he said, “What?” and I said “They’ve been on the bottom of the ocean all day. They have no idea what’s waiting for them when they get back to the surface,” and he said, “Oh no,” right as they cut to them back on the boat being told about the attack.
It was more than kind of horrible. The impact of watching them was pretty nearly as bad as the day itself. It startled me, how hard it hit.
They all spent the next day or two sort of wondering what the hell they were doing faffing around at the bottom of the ocean trying to learn about a 90 year old shipwreck, like, what was the point. And then they went back to it, because what else were they going to do, and because they recognized–as I did, before they said anything along the lines–that from a storytelling point of view it’s sort of apropos: them exploring the remains of one senseless tragedy as another one unfolds, unbeknownst to them, above them.
It all made for a more-effective-than-anticipated memorial for the day, that’s for damned sure.
(x-posted from the essential kit)