Winnipeg's city hall memorialYou will be hearing a lot about the RMS Titanic in the days ahead. April 14 - 15, 2012 is the 100th anniversary of the tragedy that killed 1,517 of the 2,223 people aboard. Of the couple of dozen Manitobans, or immigrants with Manitoba listed as their final destination, just four survived.
Retrieved bodies aboard the Mackey Bennet (source)
As with most tragedies, the passage of time has dulled our senses to the significance of the event. Earlier this year many realized just how irrelevant the sinking had become when at least one international "showbiz-news" show declared the sinking of the Costa Concordia to be a "Real Life Titanic - just like in the James Cameron movie."
Here in Manitoba one company has been commemorating the Titanic tragedy for a number of years with a tasteless memorial.
Playworld Fun Rentals rents out a 25 foot tall inflatable "Amazing Titanic Dual Adventure Slide." Yes, your children can have fun sliding down the deck just like the 1,517 men, women and children did to their death all those years ago. They bill it as "great for any event." Indeed.
Forgetting a tragedy is one thing, but turning it into family fun is downright disrespectful.
I checked the rest of Playworld Fun Rentals' site to see if there were other atrocities-made-fun games on offer. Perhaps a "Battle of Vimy Ridge Shooting Gallery", "Nazi Concentration Camp Spray Pad" or "9-11 Tower Jump." Thankfully, they don't offer any - yet.
Manitoba Free Press, April 20, 1912
Hopefully for this anniversary people will take the time to remember those lost their lives. Even though it was 100 years ago, the Titanic tragedy still has lessons to teach us.
It puts a breaking strain upon the mind to try to imagine the scenes on the different decks of the great steamer when she suffered her death wound as the result of the collision with the iceberg that came bearing death to so many hundreds. The appalling suddenness of the disaster, the agonising terror, the heroisms that we may be sure there were, the partings, the terribleness of the ice-laden midnight ocean to the women and children in the life-boats - these things the imagination is powerless to realize in any of their actual poignancy as it was felt by those who passed through the disaster, either to be rescued, or to perish. Every feeling heart will sympathize with the families and friends of the victims of the shipwreck.
Manitoba Free Press editorial, April 17, 1912
For more, check out my This Was Manitoba blog post Manitoba's Titanic Connections. I''m updating it for the April 14 anniversary.