Many Memorials for Titanic Tragedy
Churches All Over Country Unite in Holding Services Devoted to The Disaster—New York Mass Meeting
Expressions of tender, heartfelt sympathy for those who were in great grief; sorrow for those who died; glowing words of tribute for the heroism which had thrilled the world and then strong words urging legislation and regulation to prevent a recurrence of the Titanic catastrophe marked the memorial meeting at the Broadway Theater Sunday afternoon, April 21, 1912.
Solemn as the occasion was, the vast audience which jammed the auditorium from orchestra to topmost balcony could not forbear testifying its approval of that which was said at times or in joining in hearty adoption of the resolutions which crystallized the sentiment.
The meeting was presided over by Frederick Townsend Martin, and the principal speaker was William Jennings Bryan.
Mr. Martin made a brief introductory address. The greater the sorrow, the less the tongue could say, he declared; there are some sorrows too great to dwell upon. We can only mourn for those who perished; we can only sympathize with those that are suffering today.
"We have rejoiced," he said, "over the great strides of business and commerce. We have believed in it, aided it until this commerce has grown too greedy, and it has taken advantage of our confidence. It has preferred to spend its millions in extravagances and pennies for safety; we now reap the result of that policy." Mr. Martin said that sorrow is a great educator.
"We sometimes see further through a tear than through a telescope." It might be that out of this will come great good to the future. He called the conduct of those in the wreck heroic, showing a heroism "that only the angels can surpass, far greater than that shown on the greatest battlefield in the world's history." At the conclusion of his speech, he introduced Mr. Bryan.
The epigram about seeing further through the tear than through the telescope had appealed to Mr. Bryan, and he used it as a text at the outset. "May we see through these tears now," he said.
"Our coming here today is evidence that sometimes all of us can meet together, and we do meet together when drawn by a common purpose. There is a difference in education between us, much more than there should be, I fear; there is a difference in wealth, much more than there should be; there is a difference of church, much more than there should be, but we are all one when our hearts are touched, when we meet together upon the foundation of the heart."
Many more people had died in a given period than the Titanic catastrophe had called for, "it is not because so many died in a shorter period that we come here, but because of the suddenness of the death, the awfulness of it."
Mr. Bryan used then the figure of a river and its tributaries. The story of a single tributary had no effect on its volume; it is when there is only a general storm, when the water pours in from everywhere that the mighty stream rises, sweeps over its banks.
"So these people dying in a single moment have broken down all man-made boundaries—we rush forth over sweeping everything that would prevent us.
"An occasion of this kind teaches its lessons," Mr. Bryan continued. "A great emergency is like a stage upon which the people play a part as before an audience. In the street you cannot tell the hero from the villain, but when you come upon the stage you see them all; they show us the little, and the great, the rich and the poor, the wise and the simple as they really are; and this catastrophe has given us a chance to see how many heroes there are who only need a call forward to vindicate their right to be admired.
"I am proud of what we have learned of these men and these women, proud to know of their self-control that has given them the power to face death undismayed, aye, to stand back and say: 'Before me."
"It is very easy to be polite when there is no danger in waiting; it is harder when delay, even for a moment, may mean death. I am proud of the records that have been made and glad that these illustrious examples come from every class.
"Some of the names are known. But it is not only they that need to be remembered at such a time as this. A gentleman was telling me yesterday a story he had heard from one of the survivors in that busy hour when all were seeking a means of escape. One of the passengers, a woman, was putting on a life preserver, and said to the steward: 'Where is yours?"
The answer was: 'I am afraid there are not enough to go around." "He was doing what he could to save the others, and I am sure that none has read the story without being touched by it, of those wives who would not leave their husbands, who preferred to share the dangers of remaining with them to seizing the opportunity to escape.
I knew one of these men in Congress. I was a colleague of Mr. Straus twenty years ago, and it is pleasant to know that he was a hero and not afraid; and it is sweet to know that the wife who had been his companion for so many years was true to the history of that earlier Ruth and preferred not to leave him—‘Entreat me not to leave thee.'
These examples of manliness and womanliness are the heritage of our people. They make us proud of those whom we knew, who were a part of us. "Nothing that we can say can bring back the dead," said Mr. Bryan a little further on. "And little that we can say can soothe those who are under the shadow of a great personal loss.
"Those occasions are for the future more than for now, for others more than for ourselves." Mr. Bryan told then of a conversation with a lawyer in a Western city years ago, who had said: "Without the shedding of blood there can be no remission of sins."
"He said," the speaker continued, "'You cannot correct a great wrong until somebody is killed; you may talk about dangers, but they will not listen." Not until the tragedy of death shocks us will we pay attention.
Often we do not know what needs to be done or provided until emergency throws its light upon the situation." He told of his own experience in the West Indies last year when the ship upon which he was traveling ran upon a coral reef.
The experience was not dangerous; there was no peril. "But I learned then for the first time," he continued, "that they had but one wireless operator upon ships of that size and that by agreement the operators slept from 1:30 till 6 o'clock, four hours in the night when a sinking ship could not call another ship even if but a few miles away.
"The moment we found out the situation, we were anxious that a law should be passed to require not less than two operators on a ship that there might be no delay in the securing of succor. We were not in danger, and we could wait ten hours, but in three hours the Titanic went down.
We learned then we needed more operators and bills are now before Congress to remedy this, and I have no doubt that this great disaster, this greater, this gigantic, this Titanic disaster will result in legislation that will be beneficial to those who come after.
"I venture the prediction that the wireless system will be made more immediately effective and efficient over a wider area and that the chance of danger will be diminished. I venture the assertion that as the result of the investigation now going on better preparations will be made with the lifeboats for the safety of passengers.
I venture the assertion that less attention will be paid to comforts and luxuries that can be dispensed with and more thought was given to the lives of those entrusted to the care of those shipbuilders and shipowners. I venture to assert also that the mania for speed will receive a check and that people will not be so anxious to get across the ocean in the shortest time as they will be to get across."
Mr. Bryan, in conclusion, referred to an old Greek game where the prize was to him that carried a lighted candle to a goal. "And so these shipowners must learn that the race is not to the swift, but to those who can carry the light of life all the way over and not extinguish it on the way.
"I am glad to be one of this vast multitude to thus testify by presence and word to the fact that we are all one in heart and feeling. I link my heart with yours in an expression of profound sorrow and in an expression of deepest sympathy, and I link my hope to yours that this great, unspeakable disaster will bear fruitage of good in larger safety to those who go down to the sea in ships."
Professor Felix Adler, in his address to the Ethical Culture Society, said in part:
"Heedlessness and culpable neglect brought on the Titanic disaster. The public, in general, must share the blame. It is pitiful to think of those golf links and swimming pools on the steamship which is now 2,000 fathoms deep.
Though human weakness brought on the disaster, sublime qualities were illustrated after its occurrence. The rule of the sea is based on the moral equality of women and men.
The statement made by some that women should have declined the preference well illustrates the rule. Inferior strength and less power of endurance are offset by a better chance for safety.
"There were places in the lifeboats for the physically weaker of the women and life belts for the physically stronger men. It has also been said that more valuable lives should have had preference, but those for whom this claim was made were the first to disdain it and they consorted with the undistinguished people in the steerage in the fine democracy of death.
"The most admirable feature was the calmness of those left behind."
"If the builders of the Titanic had had real faith in the almightiness of God," said the Rev. Dr. Charles A. Eaton in the memorial service at the Madison Avenue Baptist Church, "they would not have believed that they could build something to master His seas. It was science they called upon, science, which since the days of Martin Luther has grown to be the mentor of the world.
It gave them swimming pools, elevators, gorgeous suites and promenades, every comfort that a depraved and luxurious nation loves. When that proud ship sailed, it had tortured the brains of the race in production and incarnated all of complex modern science. But science, which has brought the world between us and God, can never produce anything that will not crumble at the touch of God.
That unconquerable boat went down. "That one event has done more to dispel the wretched selfishness and sleepiness of our age than anything within my lifetime.
With its best engines, its best staterooms, music, provender, diversions, its best people, it went down at a touch from God. We had forgotten the brooding deep and all that lies behind. We had not taken lifeboats.
"The managing director in his palatial saloon, the crew who did not drill, the man whose duty it was to bring up a bucketful of seawater for his thermometer and who filled it at the nearer faucet instead, all of them secure in their unsinkable ship—fools."
Twenty-two survivors from the Titanic, possibly more, attended the memorial service at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine Sunday morning after the disaster.
Some of these survivors remained after the service to speak to the bishop and other clergies to thank them as they had in the service, they said, thanked God for their preservation.
At the bases of the chancel arch were great anchors of purple violets and upon the arches themselves were the British and American colors. Upon the fronts of the choir stalls were palm leaves and all doorways were draped in black and purple.
The psalm from the burial service was sung while the people knelt, and the choir came in and at the close of the long and solemn service went out again in silence. The anthem was Sullivan's "Yea, though I walk through the shadow of the valley of death," and the prayers were from the same prayer book office for the dead.
The Bishop of New York, the president of the house of deputies of the General Convention, the Archdeacon of New York, ex-President Smith of Trinity College and Canons Voorhees, Clover and Watson, with the cathedral dean, were among those who took part.
So great was the number of people that they were seated in the choir stalls. Even then, many stood. Bishop Greer's sermon was short, and near its close, he bade the people pray and read a prayer for those in affliction, which brought the solemn, occasion to its climax.
Maj. Archibald W. Butt, aid to the president, was educated at the University of the South, Sewanee, Tenn., and about twenty of his classmates, residents of New York and vicinity, attended a memorial service at St. Mark's Church, Second Avenue and Tenth Street.
The Holy Communion service, a part of the memorial one, was primarily for persons who knew the Major. Seventy-four came forward to receive it. The rector of St. Mark's, the Rev. W. N. Guthrie, was a classmate of Major Butt and preached the sermon.
His topic was, "How Shall We View God in the Light of Such a Disaster?" After the service, a committee was named to draw up resolutions of sympathy and forward them to the Major's family, which resides in Washington. Classmates who are members of the committee are Dr. John P. H. Hutchin, Beverly Wrenn, T. Channing Moore, Robert B. Elliott, and William M. Puckette.
Services in the Jewish temples of New York were occasions of mourning for the dead in the Titanic disaster. At several of the synagogues, the catastrophe was the subject of the sermon.
Isidor Straus, the New York Millionaire, Who Lost His Life with the Sinking of the Ill-Fated Titanic. © Pach Bros., NY. Wreck and Sinking of the Titanic (1912) p. 146. GGA Image ID # 108dfeaa33
At Temple Beth-El, Fifth Avenue and Seventy-sixth street, of which Mr. and Mrs. Isidor Straus, who died loyally together, were members, all the representatives of the Straus family now in the city were present. They were ex-Ambassador Oscar Straus, brother of the dead philanthropist; Percy Straus, his son; Mrs. Percy Straus and her sisters, Mrs. Percy Straus' mother, Mrs. Abraham Abraham, widow of the late Mr. Straus' business partner; Mrs. Lazarus Kohns, his sister; Lee Kohns, his nephew, and Mrs. Edmund E. Wise, his niece.
The Rev. Dr. Samuel Schulman, who during his fourteen years incumbency as rabbi of the temple had been closely associated with Mr. Straus, could scarcely control his emotions as he spoke. He said in part: "I knew Isidor Straus for fourteen years. He was a man with great intellect, a sensitive conscience, a great heart, a loyal son of his people, and a loyal American—a great man. "God's ways are not our ways. Therefore we should not attempt to define His motive in this tragic end of a great person. God sometimes, in His infinite wisdom, selects a man to designate that his life may be remembered by all mankind. After the Civil War, it seemed to everyone that the life of Abraham Lincoln was complete.
His work, a great work, had been accomplished. Yet God saw one thing lacking. One thing was essential to perpetuate through the annals of time itself, And God designated him and made a martyr of him. "Isidor Straus was a great Jew.
All the traditions of the Jew were dear to his heart. In the past, we, as Jews, have been able to say the Jews are great philanthropists. Now when we are asked, 'Can a Jew die bravely?' there is an answer in the annals of time.
When we are asked, 'What enabled Isidor Straus to do all these things?' our answer must be, 'God blessed him and gave him Ida Straus.' Isidor and Ida Straus were two persons with a single thought. Beloved and adored of each other in life, in death, they were not separated."
At Temple Emanu-El, Fifth Avenue and Forty-third street, the "Dead March in Saul" was played during the silent prayer. Sounds of sobbing filled the great edifice throughout the service, which was attended by Mrs. Benjamin Guggenheim, who was widowed by the Titanic catastrophe; Mr. and Mrs. Daniel Seligman, Mrs. De Witt Seligman, sister of Mr. Guggenheim; George Rosenheim, whose brother perished in the disaster; Mrs. Leo Greenfield and her son, and Mrs. Edgar Meyer, the last three of whom were survivors of the wreck.
"God is the Law Giver of the universe," said the Rev. Dr. Joseph Silverman, who preached the sermon, "and His laws are for the benefit of all, not of the few. When we violate the fundamental laws of nature, we must suffer.
"Men learn by experience. Many may take comfort in the thought that the same errors will not again be committed, and that there will be no great sacrifice of life in the future from the same causes. All the progress in the world has been brought about by suffering on the part of individuals. Thousands have died, and many more thousands have suffered in the cause of science. Millions have died on battlefields for the sake of liberty. Those on the Titanic when it went down must be added to the great roll of martyrs to progress."
Special Service for Major Butt
Major Archibald Butt. Aid to President Taft. One of the Heroic Dead, Stepping Aside That Others Might Be Saved. © Harris & Ewing. Wreck and Sinking of the Titanic (1912) p. 145. GGA Image ID # 108dceec24
President and Mrs. Taft attended services at St. Paul's Episcopal Church in Washington on Sunday in memory of Maj. Archibald W. Butt, the president's military aid, who lost his life in the Titanic disaster. Major Butt was a member of St. Paul's Church. The services were held at 9 o'clock, before the regular morning service.
Secretary of the Treasury MacVeagh, Secretary of War Stimson, Charles D. Hilles, secretary to the president, and many persons prominent in Washington society, including members of the Diplomatic Corps, were present.
The services were opened by the singing of "Nearer, My God, to Thee," the hymn which the heroic bandsmen on the Titanic played as the ship sank. The Rev. Frank Talbot, the pastor of the church, took as the text of his sermon: "Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friend." "It is not my purpose," said Mr. Talbot, "to dwell at length on the life, character, and death of the gallant soldier who sacrificed his life for his brother men.
This is not the place to speak nor to listen to human words, although we are here together in this little church, where our beloved friend was accustomed, as he said, to slip in from time to time to attend early communion service, with which his duties did not interfere, but we are here to listen to the words of that Man of Nazareth, who centuries ago died that men might live."
The Rev. Mr. Talbot indorsed the proposal to erect a monument to the memory of Major Butt. "After all," he said, "length of days does not count much. It seems to me that had our friend lived to a ripe old age, his influence for bravery, and for the nobility of character could not have been greater than it is today. His name and his valiant death will be treasured in song and story for centuries to come."
The president also attended the regular services at 'All Souls Unitarian Church, and in the afternoon went to the memorial services at St. John's Episcopal Church in honor of the Washington victims of the disaster. The Rev. U. G. B. Pierce, the pastor, referred to the Titanic disaster in his sermon.
"This is a memorial service," he said, "but during the last week our hearts have been so taxed, we have been strained with so many and so many conflicting emotions that the virtue of this service must be the virtue of self-restraint. We have heard enough. We have felt too much, and we are here now to drink anew at the fountain of life and to fan into flame the flickering torch of our faith. We need strength today in the face The Titanic disaster was the topic of the sermons in many other Washington churches. The Rev. Samuel H. Greene, of Calvary Baptist Church, said:
"In the events of the last week we have seen how sweet and beautiful womanhood could be and how noble manhood could be at its best, and we have seen how thin are the partitions that separate the fortunate from the unfortunate, the rich from the poor. It is not what a man has but what a man is what counts in the crisis of life.
"On that night, men stood back that women and children might reach a place of safety. The millionaire and the steward stood side by side, and both alike were heroes. "But someone must bear the responsibility for that disaster through the years to come. So many went down, and they were not responsible for it. Let us wait patiently for the result of a full and fair investigation."
In nearly all the Catholic churches of the city, it was announced that requiem masses would be sung for the souls of the victims of the disaster.
Many Memorial Services in Chicago
Every seat of the auditorium was filled, and hundreds were turned away from the service in the Episcopal Cathedral because they were unable to gain an entrance. Rt. Rev. Theodore N. Morrison, bishop of Iowa, occupied the pulpit with Dean Sumner.
Honor in Disaster
"This is not a time for many words," said Dean Sumner. "Sentences are hollow, and sentiments are commonplace and trite in the face of such an appalling disaster—a disaster from the worldly standpoint, but an honor to God from the religious point of view.
"It has sobered the world. As we celebrate the death of little children as martyrs on Holy Innocents' day we will memorialize those who sank on the Titanic as the martyrs of this age sacrificed by God to arouse the world to a deeper spiritual realization, to a desire for a more splendid type and a consciousness that life is ever ending, and we must be prepared to meet death when it comes.
"In the risen Christ, we find a promise of that life to come, not only for those who have gone before but for those who remain."
Special prayers were offered up for the dead and special music by the choir.
Proof That Men Are Good
Rev. Johnston Myers, of Immanuel Baptist Church, said:
"We may safely say that the Titanic was the most perfect human achievement up to the present time, the triumph of building on land and sea. In one hour last Sunday, it was made a pitiful wreck, and in four hours, the ocean closed over it forever.
"People are better than we think they are. Only a few months ago public opinion condemned as unfit one of the men who died as heroes and who is today acclaimed. The millionaires are not all bad men as it turns out.
"The nations are remembering God today as not before. People are praying this Sunday who did not pray last Sunday."
Fallows Condemned Owners
Bishop Samuel Fallows, D. D., LL.D., rector of St. Paul's Reformed Episcopal Church, said:
"We cannot sufficiently condemn those in charge of the Titanic for dashing ahead in the face of danger of which they had been forewarned. But let us not forget that there is a practically insane desire among us all for excessive speed, both on land and sea.
"It has been clearly demonstrated that in case of accidents, provision is not made as to the number of lifeboats for caring for all on board any of the ocean lines. Must not this be remedied?"
Blow to Class Prejudice
Frederick E. Hopkins, the pastor of Park Manor Congregational Church, said:
"Among many lessons that we could learn from such a terrible calamity, one of the most important would seem to be this: That it ought to be for a long time more difficult than ever to arouse class prejudice, when this catastrophe has so clearly shown that the first and last through the first cabin passenger had about the poorest woman in the steerage was that she should be given the first chance for her life no matter what happened to the man or woman of millions and of fame."
Guilt as Our Own
Rev. William E. Danforth, pastor of Christ Church, Elmhurst, said:
"In our dazed pondering of this Titanic disaster let us confess that the situation which shivered the ship shatters self-deluding ethics. The guilt is not that of any individual or corporation, but ours, in an age of mania for speed and smashing records. The one on whom to fasten the blame is every man to whom all else palls unless he rides in the biggest ship and the fastest possible. He will be guilty in his automobile tomorrow."
Due to Speed Mania
Rev. W. H. Carwardine, the pastor of the Windsor Park M. E. Church, said:
"Fifteen hundred human lives were sacrificed, sent to a watery grave, with the good ship Titanic, to satisfy the lust for speed, greed and the maritime supremacy on the sea of an Atlantic steamship company. "The dare-devil insolence and pride of the human heart that would drive a vessel at such speed through a sea of ice and in spite of warning as to danger are staggering and incomprehensible."
Rev. Ingram E. Bill, the pastor of the North Shore Baptist Church, said:
"The lust for conquest and reckless disregard of human life is the glaring crime of the hour.
"What if the Titanic had evaded the icebergs and had swung into sight at the mouth of New York harbor hours before their scheduled time, smashing all the transatlantic records?
"A thoughtless people, who now condemn the taking of a risk which resulted in the death of 1,500 precious souls, would have hailed with hysterical delight this new conqueror of the waves and yelled themselves hoarse in their demand for more speed and bigger and better achievements."
M. M. Mangasarian spoke before the Independent Religious Society in the Studebaker Theater. He said in part:
"'Noblesse Oblige'—that glorious human precept was strictly observed by the splendid crew and passengers of the stricken Titanic. 'Be Britishers!' cried the veteran Captain Smith through a megaphone from his bridge. There is nothing more inspiring in any of the Bibles in the world, except it be the more universal and thrilling challenge, "Be men!' The Titanic episode has vindicated human nature grandly. Jew and Christian and agnostic forgot race and religion to remember that they were men."
Marshall Everett, Editor, "Chapter XVIII: Many Memorials for Titanic Tragedy," in Wreck and Sinking of the Titanic: The Ocean's Greatest Disaster, Chicago: Homewood Press (1912), p. 133-154.