Today, I turn eastward with solemn acknowledgement as the time nears 10:40 p.m. in the middle of the north Atlantic. Last year at this time, I stood on the deck of the cruise ship Balmoral, gazing into the water directly above the wreckage of the RMS Titanic. I will never forget the feeling I had, watching the dark water lap against the hull of our ship, as my mind played back the events of that night in 1912. A dark, still night on the ocean brings it to life like nothing else can.
We know more than ever about the accident, about the ship, about the people who built her, and the people who sailed her. We know more than ever about the passengers. There are those we still know nothing about. There are some passengers who remain unidentified. There are others with monuments built to them.
Like so many others, I mourn for the abrupt end to so many lives. I’m always reminded that millions of people die too soon, in situations far more tragic than the Titanic collision. This is true, yet it doesn’t diminish the tragedy. I find I must simply include those other millions in my silent ceremony, and hope that we never stop trying to stop death from winning so easily.
As I did last year, I send a special thought for Thomas Andrews, whose death brought desolation to so many, for the simple reason that his life first brought them great joy. I wish him peace in his final moments 101 years ago. The tragedy of his ship brought us the undeniable truth that it was time to change our ways as a society. It brought us closer true equality for all.
He would have approved.