My dad’s hometown in a ‘Titanic’ spotlight today

As the centennial anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic is marked around the world, much attention is being placed on Belfast, Northern Ireland, where the doomed ship was built. I wish Dad could have lived long enough (in his right mind) to see this day because I know he would have been glued to the TV set, watching all of the news coverage of this historic event. As I’ve written before, Dad had a lifelong fascination with the Titanic, due to its larger-than-life presence in his hometown.

The Titanic leaves Southampton, England on her maiden voyage to New York City, April 10, 1912. File photo.

Belfast as a city has struggled with the Titanic legacy. It must be difficult from a moral and ethical standpoint to balance a local pride in a feat of shipbuilding along with the tragic sinking and enormous loss of life that occurred on the ship’s maiden voyage. Una Reilly, chair of the Belfast Titanic Society spoke eloquently on this point: “We are all proud of this ship. What happened was a disaster; she was not.”

There’s an analogy that came to mind as I’ve been reading various Titanic-related articles. One such piece debated the reason why the Titanic sank, and proposed that if the captain had just struck the iceberg head-on, the ship could have handled it, but it was his decision to try to skirt around the iceberg that caused the ship to suffer damage that led to its sinking. Whether this theory is right or wrong we may never know for certain. But there is a life lesson to be learned here. When it comes to life’s troubles, it we meet them head-on and deal with them directly instead of trying to skirt around the issue and be in denial, we have a better chance of overcoming such obstacles.

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