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Lessons I Have Learned from The RMS Titanic Disaster

by Terri Bey

The sinking of the RMS Titanic on that cold April night in 1912 shocked the world. Titanic survivor Jack Thayer said, in part, "the world of today awoke April 15th, 1912," meaning that the world that he knew prior to the disaster had changed forever. Many lessons had also been learned from the disaster, and steps have been taken to make sure that a Titanic-like disaster never happens again. Such measures taken were lifeboat drills, lifeboats for all, the creation of the International Ice Patrol, etc., all of which are still used today. It really is a shame that a disaster of that magnitude had to happen for safety features to be installed.

Of course, I have been reading and studying about the Titanic disaster for many years. I have watched documentaries and movies, etc. I have already mentioned that the shipping industry has learned many lessons from the disaster. In my continuous studies, I have realized that I have learned lessons from the disaster itself, and I would like to share them with you.


Yes. I did partially quote Leonardo DiCaprio as "Jack Dawson" in James Cameron's Oscar-winning Best Picture "Titanic" (1997). Everyone who has seen the film remembers his character giving that whole speech about how he "never knows where he is going to be.." and all of that. Much of what he says is quite true, especially the part about "taking life as it comes," and how "life is a gift and {he} doesn't intend on wasting it."

Even before I even heard of James Cameron, it was very early in my studies of the ship's voyage that I learned this concept. Throughout the entire voyage in all three classes, everyone was having a great time. Colonel Archibald Gracie spoke about how he enjoyed the heated pool. The Third Class entertained themselves by playing instruments if they had any and danced. The Third Class ate with actual cutlery. The Second Class Passenger accommodations were just as good as many accommodations in First Class in other ships. The evening of the disaster, Captain Smith is being feted by the Wideners. Everyone is having a great time and then disaster strikes, and 1496 people, including Captain Smith, George Widener, and his son Harry perish. Life can change in an instant.

I have learned from my studies of the disaster to always appreciate life. There were times where I just wanted to give up when things went wrong. However, I learned from the Titanic disaster how quickly life can be taken from you. The passengers on the Titanic were happy passengers throughout the day on Sunday and the large majority of Sunday evening and then they were fighting for their lives early Monday morning. I realized that I always have to try to make the most of my days on this earth. You are given only one life and you shouldn't waste it.


During the Gilded Age in which the Titanic Disaster occurred, there was a very distinct class structure. Passengers who traveled on the liner were separated by class as well. The RMS Titanic left Queenstown, Ireland with 1317 passengers, along with 891 crew. There were 324 First Class Passengers, 284 Second Class Passengers, and 709 Third Class or Steerage Passengers.* As most people know, everything on the Titanic was separated by class. The accommodations were separated, particularly in Third Class, due to sanitation rules. This separation of class became particularly glaring, when at 11:40 pm, on April 14, 1912, the splendid liner struck an iceberg and Captain Smith gave the order to evacuate about an hour later.

As Titanic enthusiasts know, the First Class Passengers had access to the lifeboats. The Second Class Passengers were next and the poor Third Class Passengers had to fend for themselves. The statistics demonstrate this. In First Class, only 4 women and 1 child perished, whereas in Third Class, 90 women and 46 Children. Many First Class men, such as Isidor Straus, John B. Thayer II, George D. Widener, etc. perished in the disaster, but the total losses of 118 First Class Male Passengers are still less than the 154 men who perished in Second Class and the 392 men who perished in Third Class. Studying how the evacuation took place and how Third Class Passengers, in particular, had such a difficult time getting access to the boats just opened my eyes to how people were valued at that time, even in a life and death situation.

I had always been aware of class anyway. I always felt that the poor in general, many through no fault of their own, got the short end of the stick. The rich and famous, on the other hand, are glorified and admired. When the news of the sinking hit the papers, the only passengers mentioned were the prominent ones, like the Astors and Guggenheim. None of those in Third or even in Second Class were mentioned at all. We still experience this kind of behavior in today's society and in today's media.

Another lesson for me that I learned from the Titanic disaster is that disaster, in general, is a great equalizer. When at 2:20 AM, the great liner made her final plunge beneath the waves and left 1496 dead, it didn't matter at that point what your class structure was. Among the dead were poor immigrants who were trying to get to America to live a better life and had that opportunity taken from them, as well as millionaires, whose millions could not save them from the RMS Titanic's final moments.


The final lesson that I have learned from studying the RMS Titanic is that to have compassion for people. The Titanic disaster was difficult for the relatives of the victims but very difficult for those who survived the disaster. Today, we have therapists and other help for people affected by disasters and treatment for what is now called Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome. Back in those days, there likely was no way to treat conditions such as "survivor's guilt," and PTS. Male survivors were shamed for surviving because of the mantra of "women and children first." Quartermaster Robert Hitchens, who was at the wheel when the ship struck the iceberg had great difficulty dealing with the aftermath. I can imagine that Lookout Frederick Fleet must have dealt with people shaming him for surviving and also blaming him for the collision with the iceberg. Fleet eventually committed suicide in 1965 a couple of weeks after the death of his wife.

I can't imagine ever losing a loved one or have a loved one experience a disaster as horrible as the sinking of the Titanic. I hope such a disaster never happens to someone I love. I try to always appreciate people, especially my friends and family, and always try to reach out to people who are going through hard times. You never know what they are dealing with in their lives. Studying the disaster and its impact on people makes me think that maybe I should not be thinking about my own problems and think about others for a change. I have certainly made huge attempts to be more compassionate and to be kind to people, thanks to the study of the Titanic disaster. I don't always succeed, but I do try. It costs nothing to be kind.

From HTTP:// by Samuel Halpern.

Thank you for reading.


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1 comentário

I enjoyed revisiting the Unsinkable Molly B’s story. A definite heroine for me and many others. What a woman 💪

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