The Titanic – 100 Years Later
Written for the KidsKnowIt Network by: Brandt Goble
A few numbers to think about on April 14, 2012, the 100 year tragic anniversary of the cold, dark, star-filled night when the RMS Titanic struck an iceberg and slowly slipped under the waves of the north Atlantic Sea and glided silently, violently and rapidly to the ocean floor at 2:20 a.m. on April 15, 1912.
12,450: The number of feet, which is about 2½ miles, below the ocean’s surface where the Titanic silently sleeps in cold and crushing darkness. How deep is that? To break the ocean’s surface from where the wreck of the Titanic now rests you would have to stack the 7 largest man-made structures on top of each other. That’s the Burj Khalifa in the United Arab Emirates at 2,722.57 feet tall, the Tokyo Sky Tree in Tokyo, Japan, at 2,080 feet tall, the guyed mast for KVLY-TV in Blanchard, North Dakota, at 2063 feet tall, the Abraj Al Bait Towers in Mecca, Saudi Arabia, at 1972 feet tall, the BREN Tower at the Nevada test site at 1516 feet tall, the Lualualei VLF Transmitter in Lualualei, Hawaii, at 1503 feet tall and the Petronas Twin Towers in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, at 1482 feet tall. Take away the Twin Towers and you would still be over 590 feet below the ocean’s surface.
*Passenger numbers are approximate because the count on the original passenger list was unclear. Some passengers also cancelled their plans at the last minute.
2201: It’s the number of people that were on board the Titanic the last night it was still steaming above the waves on its way to New York City. 805 men, 402 women and 109 children many of the kids were kids just like you.
1491: That’s the number of men, women and children on board the Titanic that cold starry night, April 15, 2012, that lost their lives. 1329 men, passengers and crew; 109 women, passengers and crew; and 53 children that were expecting to see another day had all their hopes and dreams disappear beneath the icy waves.
710: The number of survivors that made it to safety from the Titanic before it too could become their final resting place. Only 20% of the total number of passengers and crew on board survived. 338 men, 316 women and 56 children were all that made it off the crippled passenger liner to the safety of one of the ships that picked up the beleaguered RMS Titanic survivors.
20: The number of life boats that the Titanic had on board for its passengers and crew. The great ship had room to carry 64 lifeboats, but for reasons that may never be truly known, fate was tempted by not preparing for the worst.
160: The minutes that the Titanic stayed afloat after the iceberg struck her starboard side and ensuring her fate was not to finish her maiden voyage. That’s 2 hours and 40 minutes for heroes to emerge, cowards to act, and the lives of hundreds to end and a story about a great ship to be etched into history and remembered forever.
There are many lessons and examples to be taken from the loss of this great ship. Lives ended that could have been saved. Families forever changed by the loss of Fathers, Mothers, Sons & Daughters to an unforgiving sea.
The sinking of the Titanic is a tragedy that for many reasons could have been avoided but for the arrogance of many who felt the great ship was unsinkable. Men who thought that every precaution had been taken and that the unthinkable would never happen were sadly proven wrong.
There are lots and lots of numbers associated with the sinking of the Titanic. How big the ship was, how much it could hold, how tall, how long, how wide and on and on and on. But let’s not forget that some of those numbers were children just like you. Mothers and Fathers, Brothers and Sisters, friends and family who all deserve to be remembered and thought of, people lost in a tragedy so terrible that we remember them and their great ship, a ship of which for many became their final resting place for eternity. Their lives and stories deserve to be remembered as much as the name Titanic.
There are countless stories of heroism and of cowardice among the rich and poor alike aboard Titanic in her final hours on that cold night. The electricians worked to keep the lights on until they flickered and finally went out for the last time just a few minutes before the Titanic disappeared beneath the surface of the water forever. The electricians were only able to make this possible thanks to the workers in the boiler rooms who kept the boilers stoked so there was steam and pressure to run the generators that powered the electrical system that kept the lights on. These workers chose to stay and help in this desperate situation instead of trying to save their own lives. Steam also powered the pumps that helped pump some of the water out of the ship to help keep it level as long as possible so that the passengers could escape on the lifeboats. It is believed that none of these men survived. It is unlikely that they were able to scrambled to the upper decks to attempt to save their own lives. The Captain, E.J. Smith, went down with his ship. The ship’s small group of musicians were said to have played to the very end, helping to calm the panicking passengers. All of the musicians perished.
Still, 100 years later, the fascinating and tragic story of the Titanic and its passengers continues to hold us in its grasp.