April 11, 2012

The Titanic Anniversary

Jessica Kumari talks with the great, great-granddaughter of a survivor.

Jessica: It was one hundred years ago this week, that the Titanic, the world’s largest moveable object of its time began its very first voyage. The massive ship was a floating world of luxury for its passengers and many in the press deemed the vessel unsinkable.

With more than 2,000 people on board, the Titanic set sail from England and headed toward the United States. Passengers ranged from soon-to-be immigrants seeking a better life in America to some of the world’s most elite socialites.

“These were, like, the top people of the day. We’re talking like, if we had a ship now, we had Donald Trump, Oprah, I mean, Andy Roddick — any of these top people. These were the first class of the day. We also had second and third class. These are your great-grandfathers, your great-great-grandfathers, coming over from Europe to start their lives. They’re looking for the American dream in the U.S.”

Jessica: But on the fifth night of their journey, just after 11PM on April 14, 1912, the Titanic was stopped dead in its tracks.

“It was deemed in the press to be unsinkable because it had water-tight doors and they figured they could close some of those doors so the water couldn’t go to the decks up above.”

Jessica: But the water-tight doors weren’t as effective as they had hoped. When the ship hit a large iceberg in the north Atlantic Ocean, water began flooding into the lower decks.

“The night — about 11:40 in the evening, it hit an iceberg and it sank. Unfortunately, there weren’t enough lifeboats.”

Jessica: The lucky few who made it onto lifeboats looked on as the unsinkable ship met its unthinkable fate. In less than three hours, the Titanic sank two miles below to the ocean floor, killing the majority of its passengers.

There are monuments to the Titanic all over the country and this one is in memory of the more than fifty Ohio-bound passengers.

I traveled to Ashland, Ohio to meet the descendants of a Titanic survivor.

“This is my great-grandfather, his mother, his father and then his brother who died.”

Jessica: Christine Goldsmith’s great-great-grandparents were third class passengers on the Titanic and were coming to America with their 9-year-old son Frank, Christine’s great-grandfather.

I mean, you would not be here if your great-grandfather had not survived. That is crazy to think about, right?

Christine Goldsmith: Yeah. My whole life would be different if he hadn’t survived.

Jessica: Her great-grandfather survived. But his father didn’t.

Christine: My grandfather said, ‘my mom and dad kissed and said goodbye.’ And his father said, ‘so long, Franky. I’ll see you later.’ He talks about being in the lifeboat and rowing away. And as the ship is sinking, his mom is holding his head so that he can’t see his father perish.”

Jessica: What is it like to have this personal connection to such a significant moment in U.S. history?

Christine: It makes things a lot more real in history class. Because you kind of realize that with every story, there’s the family members still surviving and who still have to learn about it. So, like, it makes history a lot more personal.

Jessica: Christine’s great-grandfather, Frank, passed away in 1982. While has a plaque next to his mother in this Ohio cemetery, his body was cremated and his ashes were spread over the site of the sunken Titanic, transforming what was once a scene of unimaginable horror into a peaceful resting place for the little boy who managed to escape it all.

Like, when you see the newspapers and these pictures, I mean, what goes through your mind when you see all of this stuff?

Christine: That this really happened and that these people really are my family. And it’s just their story and, every person has a story. It just happens that this is my family.

Jessica: Jessica Kumari, Channel One News.


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