April 15th marked the 111th anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic. In NYC, there was a moving and very personal commemoration of the tragic day with various stops around the city.
An Emotionally Moving Tour At “Titanic. The Exhibition“
The first stop was at “Titanic. The Exhibition” (526 6th Avenue) where an intimate and private tour was held. The space has numerous artifacts from passengers and other historical items connected to the ship. From diaries to jewelry, a recovered life vest and event replicas of rooms on the ship are all a part of the experience.
The special part of this particular tour was descendants of survivors and those who passed from the tragedy were in attendance. The private tour was also hosted by Luis Ferreiro, CEO of Musealia, the company who curated and created “Titanic. The Exhibition.” Ferreiro went through various parts of the exhibit telling incredible stories of heroism, tragedy, hope and the layers of details of some of this history.
One story in particular that was heart-wrenching came from Joan Randall. Her mother Louise Fink and three other members of her family survived the sinking of the Titanic. Her mom was just four-years old when the ship sank and the shoes she wore during that time is on display at the exhibit.
Part of the reason Randall’s mom and her family survived was because of the Marconi telegraph machine which sent calls to nearby ships to help save passengers in lifeboats. A representative who spoke for the Marconi family called Princess Elettra Marconi (her father Guglielmo Marconi invented the device) to speak to the descendants there. It was a full circle moment for someone like Joan Randall, a daughter of a Titanic survivor, to speak to the daughter of someone whose invention helped save her mother’s life.
At the end of “Titanic. The Exhibition,” there is a room with the names of the perished passengers from first, second and third class as well as crew members. Over 1,500 people who lost their lives on April 15th, 1912. We were able to put a small candle light in the room as a small token of respect.
Words of Remembrance at the Titanic Memorial Lighthouse
We moved from the exhibit to the Titanic Memorial Lighthouse at the South Street Seaport, a structure many people might miss or just walk past. Fortunately, the full restoration of the lighthouse is set to take place by summer 2024. On April 15th, it’s a place of refuge for those affected members of the Titanic community.
Multiple wreaths were placed around the lighthouse memorial. Some descendants shared a few words and thoughts. The commissioner of the Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs, Manuel Castro spoke to the crowd about the power and hardships of immigrants. The story of immigration is a steady thread in many of the passengers stories who were aboard the Titanic.
Many passenger narratives were about just wanting a better life for themselves and their families. It’s a somber realization to commemorate the passengers who died, in a city they were looking forward to calling home but never got the chance to.
An Exhale of Peace and Prayers at Pier 16
A couple of the wreaths were taken to a final resting place, Pier 16. A few descendants let the wreaths go into the Hudson River. It was a quiet and soft moment as we watched them float away towards the Brooklyn Bridge.
We stood there looking out on the water as clouds began to gather. We were at the destination city the Titanic was supposed to sail to, on the day it sank, 111 years ago. It was a bittersweet moment thinking of the lives lost, the lives saved and a level of immense gratitude for the life we have now.