Victims of Titanic sinking honoured 100 years later
Published Sunday, April 15, 2012 10:04PM EDT
Last Updated Saturday, May 19, 2012 8:02AM EDT
A century after they perished in the frigid North Atlantic, the victims of the Titanic disaster were remembered on both sides of the ocean.
In Halifax, dignitaries and spectators, some of them in period dress, gathered at a local cemetery to pay their respects to the 121 victims who were buried there.
Andrew Murphy, the chairman of the Titanic 100 Society, said Sunday's interfaith service at the Fairview Lawn Cemetery also aimed to recognize the crews who risked their lives to bring the victims ashore.
"The enormity of the tragedy that unfolded in the North Atlantic 100 years ago today is laid bare," said George Jordan, the host of the service. Organizers also noted that 29 other Titanic victims were buried elsewhere in Halifax.
Defence Minister Peter MacKay, whose riding is in Nova Scotia, told the crowd that no other Canadian community was as touched by Titanic's demise.
"Halifax rose to the occasion, accommodated grief-stricken families and…accepted the sombre task of giving the dead their distinguished interment," MacKay said.
In between speeches, there were musical tributes, including a bagpipe rendition of 'Nearer My God to Thee,' a hymn reportedly played by Titanic's band as the ship went down.
The Titanic was travelling from England to New York when it struck an iceberg at 11:40 p.m. on April 14, 1912 and sank less than three hours later.
Of the 2,208 passengers and crew members, only 700 survived.
At the time, the Titanic was the world's largest and most opulent cruise liner. And it still fascinates -- an original ticket to the launch of the Titanic and a dinner menu from the ocean liner fetched more than $87,000 at a New York auction on Sunday.
The city that built the Titanic -- Belfast, Northern Ireland -- held its own commemoration service Sunday, unveiling a new monument engraved with the names of all victims.
Officials said it is the first Titanic memorial that lists victims alphabetically, with no distinction between first-, second- or third-class passengers and crew members.
Relatives of the explorer Robert Ballard, who discovered the wreck of the Titanic in 1985, also attended the Belfast service.
The night before, a memorial cruise ship, the MS Balmoral, stopped at the exact spot where the Titanic went down 100 years ago.
Passengers and crew marked the tragedy with a moment of silence, prayers and a hymn, before three floral wreaths were cast into the waves.
"All you could hear was the swell splashing against the side of the ship. You could see the white breakers stretching out to sea," Jane Allen, whose great-uncle died on the Titanic, told the BBC.
"You are in the middle of nowhere. And then you look down over the side of the ship and you realize that every man and every woman who didn't make it into a lifeboat had to make that decision, of when to jump or stay on the ship as the lights went out."
With files from The Canadian Press