On Following the Titanic

Image from Wikipedia

Although everyone knows the its story is legendary, we were surprised how much we encountered the RMS Titanic on our recent cruise around the British Isles.

We visited Liverpool, the home of White Star Line and the location of Titanic’s registry.

Liverpool from the departing ship

We traveled on Princess Cruise Lines, which is one division within Carnival Cruise Lines – that includes Cunard Line, the company that White Star merged with following the disaster.

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We visited Belfast where the Titanic was built (the actual site is on this side of the silver building – Titanic Belfast, a museum dedicated to honoring Belfast’s shipbuilding industry that is located on the former Harland and Wolff shipyard that built Titanic)

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Our cruise started in Southampton, the same city that Titanic started.

We stopped in Cobh, Ireland (then called Queenstown) – which was Titanic’s last stop where 125 people boarded. (More about Cobh in a future post.)

Several years ago we had a cruise stop in Halifax, Nova Scotia (Canada) where 150 passengers are buried in three cemeteries

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… and I imagine many readers remember this in 1997 …

… but for me, the images of this video is what strikes me.

On a Dream

Whether in the United States, Canada, Brazil, Argentina, South Africa, Australia, or most other countries, each country has a story about European immigrants that began their new roots in the new land.

Before 1890, individual U.S. states handled immigration. (New York had EllisIslandOneCastle Garden.) After the Federal government took control of that process, Ellis Island became an important gateway to a new life.

From 15-year-old Irish girl Annie Moore on January 2, 1892 until 1924, the Ellis Island Immigration Center processed 12 million immigrants who serve as the foundation for over 100 million Americans today – including me – and all in the shadows of Lady Liberty’s words:

Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free. The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!

Ellis Island processed famous names as Bob Hope, Bela Lugosi, Max Factor, and Rudolph Valentino – and my paternal grandparents who passed through EllisIslandTwoits gates in 1919. While this Island of Hope served as a start for a new life for many, it was also the Island of Tears for the rejected 2% wanting to enter.

Once inside the country, many immigrants formed communities in their new world. For me, I enjoy visiting the ethnic neighborhoods (especially Italian) that remain today. Immigration dispersal is a story in itself as my city of Cincinnati has German and Irish heritage, while the roots in cross-state Cleveland are eastern European and Italian. Besides, I still don’t know the entire story of how a pocket of Italians ended in rural southeastern Ohio where I grew up.

Although Ellis Island served other purposes for its last 30 years (1924-1954), different immigration centers processed immigrants, including my mother in 1953, who (at the time) did not know English. Today, Ellis Island is a national monument serving as a national museum of immigration.

EllisIslandToday

The video below sparked this short reflection on immigration that actually deserves more than I’ve given. Not only does Peter Boyer’s music capture the feeling while celebrating of an important part of American history, the images reminded me of the stories of many that repeated across the country – including in my own family, which sought a dream in America.