When you think of maritime strife, what do you remember? Why?
Flashback to U.S History and my junior year of high school; we had covered everything up through the early, twentieth century. My teacher did not discuss the RMS Titanic which sunk in 1912, but luckily, I had immersed myself in that subject when I was in the seventh grade. I did a project for my then, social studies class which included a mock-scale replica of half of the boat on the ocean floor. I even painted the word Titanic on it.
I did my research and I knew it well. I even understand why it wasn’t covered in U.S. History. However, one thing that my teacher was sure to cover, were all of the major wars and this included World War I. I vividly remember the knotty, test question he asked: “what incident was responsible for the U.S. entering World War I?” If memory serves, it was multiple choice. I knew the answer; the sinking of the Lusitania.
The assassination of Archduke Ferdinand was a big precursor of the war too and was one of the other choices. But, the trick in my teacher’s exam questions were in the specifics. As in, why did America enter the war? The Lusitania was the reason.
At sixteen, I found it hard to fathom that a ship sinking could have caused the U.S. to enter a war. But, it did.
Recently, an article hit which asked the question, “why do we care more about the Titanic then we do about the Lusitania?” I have to say, I agree. Why do we care more about one than the other?
As a kid, I got lucky I suppose and covered both of these disasters in a way. But, my recollection is that while there was a plethora of info on the Titanic, there was less talk about the Lusitania. I had never even heard of the Lusitania until I was a teen.
There are reasons that I can think of for this like the discovery of the Titanic was pretty big news seeing that some modern technology helped to locate it. It hadn’t been seen since it had sunk in 1912. I was like most of the world, fascinated with the remains. But, the Lusitania wreck was eventually discovered too. It had not been in as deep waters as the Titanic was, yet much more effort had been put into finding the Titanic.
Flash forward and there was even a movie made about the Titanic that erupted into even further hype. I’m pretty sure that there was never a movie entitled The Lusitania. If there was, it wasn’t as popular as the other. However, there have been plenty of movies depicting World War I. And without the Lusitania, that war may have never happened.
The facts of the matter is that the tragedies were both very similar in scale and loss. There were passengers on the Lusitania from both America and Ireland. A big difference in them was that the Titanic sunk on it’s maiden voyage. Finally, to answer the question, I’m not really sure why one is remembered over the other. In all fairness, this seems wrong.
Yes, the Lusitania was responsible for the U.S entering WWI and for many civilian deaths. There were people on that ship who were living their lives and trying to get from point A to point B, just like the rest of us. Many people died because the ship was purported to be carrying arms for a German enemy and that is why it was torpedoed.
The Titanic wasn’t torpedoed. It sank due to multiple errors that had little to do with enemies or warfare. After thinking about this, I have a greater appreciation for the sinking of the Lusitania because just because people were on it, did not mean that they had picked a particular side. Unfortunately, fate decided that didn’t matter. Germany was looking to score and the truth is, they weren’t concerned about killing innocent people.
I believe the Lusitania should be remembered and discussed more. We can always make improvements over human errors, like in the instance of the Titanic. Mandates were created due to that ship’s loss to be more careful around icebergs and other issues were considered. However, things like picking sides in the world and the brutality and ruthlessness in which certain powers exercise their opinions, will never completely disappear. To me, this makes the Lusitania even more tragic.