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Oh, They Built the Ship Titanic ...

March 30, 2012 - Phyllis Sigal
"Oh, they built the ship Titanic to sail the ocean blue, and they thought they had a ship that the water wouldn't go through. ...

"It was sad when the great ship went down. It was sad, sad, sad. It was sad, sad, sad. It was sad when the great ship went down ... to the bottom of the ... husbands lost their wives, little children lost their lives, it was sad when the great ship went down."

That's the chorus to a favorite campfire song I used to sing as a child.

It was a catchy melody, and I'm sure none of us kids really thought about the tragedy that had ensued decades before we were born as we sat around singing the upbeat tune that went to the sad words.

The very first Broadway play we took our children to in New York City years ago was "The Titanic," which had won the 1997 Tony Award for Best Musical along with other awards that year. We were all pretty impressed when the entire stage tilted and the grand piano slid across.

And then, the movie, "Titanic," came out.

I still remember my daughter Amanda crying her eyes out at the movie, where she and her friend Ashley were sitting a few rows away from me. They were 13 at the time ... (hence why they were sitting a few rows away from Mom.)

It was the first time in her young life that death really had touched her.

And now, we are approaching the 100th anniversary of that fateful night.

The movie is back, this time in 3-D. Exhibits and other special events are springing up all over to note the event.

I came across this particular paragraph in an Associated Press story that detailed what's going on in the world to mark the anniversary.

"An eight-night Titanic anniversary cruise leaves New York April 10 headed for Halifax and the disaster site, where a memorial service will be held. Bookings were still available as of March 26, and prices for a windowless stateroom had been reduced from $4,900 to $999,"

I laughed. OK, is it funny? Or just plain morbid?

I'm sorry, but a cruise to mark the disaster just doesn't sound like a day at the beach to me. I can see why the price has been reduced.

However, a visit to the website notes that one trip has been sold out while few spaces remain on a second cruise ship

So, all joking aside, this anniversary cruise will be a trip of a lifetime for those interested in the historic aspect of the RMS Titanic.

According to the website, "This exclusive and historic event takes place aboard the luxurious Azamara Journey Cruise Ship departing from New York on the 10th April 2012 exactly 100 years to the day the Titanic left Southampton. Our 8 night voyage of a lifetime heads for Halifax where you will have the opportunity of visiting Fairview Lawn Cemetery where victims of the RMS Titanic sinking are buried and then to the site for the memorial service to commemorate the 100th year anniversary."

There will be lectures, memorials and excursions to related sites.

The lecturers all seem quite knowledgeable. Among them are Brigette Saar, who dove to the wreck site in 1998; Ken Marschall, who is recognized as the world's foremost Titanic artist; and Günter Bäbler, who has written several books about the Titanic. Babler also has assembled one of the largest collections of Titanic memorabilia in the world.

The ship leaves New York on April 10, "exactly 100 years to the day" the doomed ship left Southampton in the United Kingdom, and it will sail to the site of the sinking, with time for reflection on the disaster. Friday, April 13, will be spent at sea, for a day of lectures. (OK. I won't say it.)

A memorial service is set for 2:20 a.m. on Sunday, April 15, to "pay tribute to all the brave passengers and crew on board that fateful night," says the website. Guests also will spend a day in Halifax, Nova Scotia, with an opportunity to visit the Fairview Lawn Cemetery where many victims are buried. A day in New York City wraps up the trip.

Behind the Titanic Anniversary Cruise is Miles Morgan owner of Miles Morgan Travel, based in the U.K.

According to a Q & A with him, he started working on the project in 2007 when a gentleman came into one of his travel shops and suggested the idea. "The more I thought about it, the more excited I became," he said.

He explained who is going on the cruise, and why.

"For many it is being a part, and taking part, in such a memorable piece of history; some of these people are looking forward to tasting the meals from that time, or even dressing up in period costume to enhance the experience. Others are lifelong Titanic ‘enthusiasts’ who have devoted a major part of their lives to studying this great ship and the events that surrounded it. Some simply became fascinated by Titanic after seeing James Cameron’s film. Then, of course, there are others – and these are very special people – who lost great, great grandparents, great uncles and aunts, and other family members all those years ago, and see this as a way to remember them."

Ok, so it's not just a joke. There are descendants who are not laughing at the thought of a memorial at sea. They will be remembering the poor souls whose lives were lost.

I'm not laughing anymore.

But, I still can't get that silly campfire tune out of my head.

"Oh they built the ship Titanic to sail the ocean blue ...

"It was sad when the great ship went down. It was sad, sad, sad. It was sad, sad, sad. It was sad when the great ship went down ... to the bottom of the ... husbands lost their wives, little children lost their lives, it was sad when the great ship went down. It sunk. Ker-plunk. To the bottom. Of the sea. Cha-cha-cha."

Yes, it was sad. Go away silly song. Go away.

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