Saturday, April 4, 2009

Are You a Survivor?

I Am A Titanic Survivor

No, I was not aboard on the night of April 14, 1912 when the Titanic made her maiden voyage, hitting an iceberg and sinking two hours and forty minutes later early on April 15.

Three short years from now, in 2012, will be the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the most famous ship that ever sailed--The Titanic.

This lesson should be ever before us, because this ship used some of the most advanced technology available at the time and was popularly believed to have been described as “unsinkable”. However, it does resulting in the deaths of 1,517 people with nearly 700 surviving, making it one of the most deadly peacetime maritime disasters in history.

One of the most famous stories of the Titanic is about the eight-member band that had assembled in the first-class lounge in an effort to keep passengers calm and upbeat, continuing to play music even when it became apparent the ship was going to sink.

There has been some argument about the last song played. None of the band members survived the sinking, so there has been much speculation about what their last song was. A first-class Canadian passenger, Mrs. Vera Dick, alleged that the final song played was the hymn "Nearer, My God, to Thee." But Walter Lord's book A Night to Remember popularized wireless operator Harold Bride’s account that he heard the song "Autumn."
It would be wonderful if it had been the hymn, since it represents what ones prayer should be in a time before death.

On Sept. 1, 1985, the wreck was found lying upright in two pieces on the ocean floor at a depth of about 13,000 feet 400 miles south of Newfoundland.

Actually, I had never researched much about the Titanic, until recently when I went to the Mineral Area College Fine Arts Theatre and heard adjunct professor Leigh Graf do a one-woman show entitled, “Sweet Kingwilliamstown.” The production was written, produced, and preformed by Graf based on the true events and word-for-word accounts in the disaster.

She created and developed her story around the lives of two people, Nora O’Leary and Daniel Buckley, but also plays four of the seven friends of Nora during the performance.

Graf’s monologue was based on things that would take place on board for these who were lowly third class passengers.

For more than an hour she kept me spellbound. She was flawless, not only with her Irish accent, but did not make one mistake in the recitation.

The performance was so realistic that she had me boarding the Titanic, sitting beside Nora, and communicating with her other friends, as Graf used various voice reflections to create one scene or go to another.

When the ill fated ship goes down, Graf had me swimming and crying for help as did so many that early morning.

Nora was picked up on lifeboat 13 and lives to tell the tragic story. She became a domestic in New York City. Upon returning to Ireland for a visit a few years later, she married Thomas J. Herlihy and then remained in Ireland where she raised her son and four daughters. She spent the remainder of her life in Ballydesmond where she died on May 18, 1975. She is buried in the parish churchyard just a few feet from fellow survivor, Daniel Buckley.

Like Nora O’Leary, I am glad I am a survivor.

I have traveled on nearly every type ship, plane or other transportation vehicles and still sing or pray for safety when I board.

Life is described as a journey here on earth that comes to a divide; one going one way and the other another. One is a broad way and many are traveling that way, and the other narrow with few going in that direction. Many believe the way most are going is the unsinkable way, but like the rich and famous or poor domestic’s on the Titanic who perished, we need to ask ourselves, “Will my spiritual ship float went I meet the Lord?”

Are you a survivor?

“And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works. And the sea gave up the dead who were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead who were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works,”-- Revelation 20:12-13.

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