Reading “A Night To Remember” during Middle School made April 14 memorable all my life. Slowly the last survivors died and this year none are left who were on the great liner when it went down in the Atlantic.
I used to dream of it.
The sinking of the ship was mythic for me, like Narnia or Atlantis only with the added force of history. So often have I dreamed of it that at times it is as if I was there. The sinking of the fabulous Titanic showed me three truths about the world.
A man doesn’t know when his time will come to die. Nobody expected a liner to sink on its maiden voyage, but it did. Nothing human is fool proof, because if humans build it, then folly is part of the very structure.
The sinking of the liner was unexpected, but when Captain Smith knew, before almost anyone else, that he would be dead in three hours it was too late to become the man he needed to be. He was either made of heroic stuff or he was not.
Each man and woman on Titanic had come to the last test and nobody had pencilled into his daybook: “Die well tonight.” The sinking of the liner burned into my mind that any moment might be the great challenge.
There is a healthy caution there, but also good news:
A man can redeem much if he dies well. Some men had been nothing much before the ship went down, but are now rightly remembered as heroes. Even men and women who had wasted their lives were given a chance on Titanic at greatness. Some achieved it, but others learned a final truth:
A man can do worse things than die. Tragic circumstances bring out the best in some and the bestial in others. Cowards died as surely as the brave, but soiled their memory. Titanic reminded me that man must die, but good men die well.
The brave band members who kept playing in order to keep calm on the decks died, but left a legacy to their families. The cowards simply died.
Perhaps all these truths are obvious, but someone the story made them real to me. Have I lived up to them? Not yet, but I hope when my time comes to die that it will find me ready to face the Truth like a man. Death is coming and it can brand me forever lost or lift my soul to heaven.