This week in the month of April is notable for two very grim anniversaries. We had the 95th anniversary of the Battle of Vimy Ridge. 3600 Canadians died in an event which historians point to as one of the events that forged this country into a nation.
I will always have difficulty with that concept somehow.
Five years before the horror of Vimy Ridge, many Canadians were among the 1500 people who perished when the Titanic sank to the ocean floor off the coast of Newfoundland.
More than a hundred of the victims are buried on Canadian soil, in a cemetery in Halifax.
This week, the saga of the unsinkable ship is reaching a climax as a century has passed since that fateful night. We should have known that in the digital age, this landmark anniversary would become a major hilight of the reality TV world.
We have commemorative cruises sailing from either side of the Atlantic. There are Titanic parties with guests decked out in expensive period costumes. Chefs are preparing the same food that passengers ate at what turned out to be the last meal for so many of them. It’s a huge merchandising opportunity.
Excuse me but does anyone else besides me find it all rather disrespectful and inappropriate? I mean, do we have 9/11 parties in September? More than a thousand people died a century ago because of the reckless negligence of the White Star Line, an arrogant shipping company which refused to pay enough attention to safeguarding the lives of its customers.
Robert Ballard must shoulder some of the blame. He’s the American oceanographer who found the wreck of the ship on the floor of the Atlantic in 1985. Since then, the wreckage has been plundered rather shamelessly. Ballard has wanted no part of it. He knew that what he discovered was basically a burial site which should have been left alone.
I guess we must also hang some of this on that most untypical Canadian named James Cameron. It was his blockbuster movie, released in 1997 that fueled the tragic story for a whole new generation.
Now he’s milking it for millions more as a 3D adaptation is up on the giant screens. A much more respectful telling of the story was the 1958 British movie “A Night to Remember”.
All in all it makes one wish that we could wave the attention away and move on.
Roger Currie is a Regina writer, broadcaster and blogger.
He currently hosts Talk of the Town every weekday at Noon, 4pm and 10pm on Access channel 7.
He will be relocating to Winnipeg at the end of April.
He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org