Thursday, July 22, 2004
When I'm in a new city, I don't usually make visiting a local cemetery one of my sightseeing priorities. But I did during my recent ministry trip to Halifax, Nova Scotia. I visited the cemetery where 121 passengers of the doomed Titanic are buried; many with names still unknown. Not long after the midnight radio transmission, "Have struck iceberg," three telegraph cable repair ships were dispatched from Halifax to make the 500-mile trip to the collision site to pick up the bodies of victims. In a way, the aftermath of the sinking of the Titanic is a tale of two ships. One was the Carpathia, the ship that rescued hundreds who had made it into lifeboats, later taking them into New York Harbor. The Carpathia carried a ship full of rescued people. But not the Mackay Bennett, the first funeral ship to arrive at the scene of the sinking. All they found was 328 people, floating in their lifejackets, frozen to death. The first one they found was a little two-year-old boy, floating face up. They were devastated. By the time they sailed into Halifax Harbor with every church bell in town tolling, there were three long rows of bodies on their deck - every one a person who did not have to die. Those lifeboats had been half empty. But as the people in the water cried out for help, the people in the lifeboats just kept rowing away. So one ship carried those who had been rescued. The other ship carried those no one cared enough to rescue.