Get past the unsinkable myth to understand the Titanic

By by dianna wray/
May 9, 2012 at 12:09 a.m.

Since the famed ocean liner was swallowed by an icy black ocean 100 years ago, we've hardly stopped talking about the Titanic.

The day the world jolted awake to learn that the unsinkable ship had sunk, taking 1,500 people into the dark water with her, the myth of the Titanic was born.

It's one of those stories we all know by heart, and was writ large in James Cameron's famed movie.

How the largest moving object in the world struck an iceberg. How there weren't enough lifeboats for the more than 2,000 people on board. The ship orchestra played as the boat sank. How the people in the lifeboats peered into the darkness while the ship tore in half, it's back end jutting into the night sky before being swallowed by the ocean. How the people in the water died so quickly. How only one of the lifeboats came back to get the survivors.

Now, a century later, it's easy to get away from the brutal facts of that night. They didn't know they were taking part of a tragedy when they boarded the ship. They didn't know that life had just changed course irrevocably when they felt a shudder go through the ship as its side brushed up against that iceberg.

It has all of the ingredients of a fine melodrama - but it's hard not to be melodramatic, to remove yourself emotionally from the cold tragedy of what happened to those who suffered that night when looking at things brought up from the actual wreck.

The Houston Museum of Natural Science is now showing "Titanic: The Artifact Exhibit," which gives you the chance to do just that.

Looking at these bits and pieces, and putting it all together to understand the what the Titanic really was, that's when the true heartbreaking poignance of this story comes to life.

And that's what it's all about, really. This really happened. It wasn't a myth to the more than 1,500 people on board who died. Even seeing images of the wreck, the prow looming out of the darkness where it rests on the ocean floor, you can't get away from this very real tragedy that happened to very real people.

So go check out this exhibit, open your eyes and remember - it wasn't just a story to those on the boat.



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