May 31, 2009

The last survivor...

... perishes.

12 comments:

Chip Ahoy said...

Oh, now you've gone and done it.

* sads *

OldGrouchy said...

"Captain Obama, icebergs have been reported ahead! Shall we slow down, captain?"

"No, speed up. Besides it will be Captain B's fault if we hit one!"

Ralph said...

Somewhere I have a book on the Titanic sinking that was published that year. It gave prominent play to millionaire newlywed John Jacob Astor going down with the ship. Little did they know about the bigger disaster just around the corner.

ricpic said...

I like it because everyone makes such a fuss over me.--Milvina Dean (on what it's like to be a Titanic survivor).

Diogenes search is over!

Cedarford said...

The poignancy of last survivorship. Some things in history, because of romance, lore, even government or media manipulation of the masses..becomes "special".

Lots of ships have sunk, but we gave the Titanic a "specialness" perhaps due to a few high society luminaries that died on that trip.

=============

Same with the WWI "Knights of the Air". The Elite fighter pilots that seemed above the grim mass death inflicted by mundane means on the ground. The public was captivated by their duels..it was the noble war the masses had been promised at least playing out in one area of the mass butchery they got. (Though we know now that much of the "valor" was experienced pilots easily slaughtering the unarmed spotter plane pilots, and badly inexperienced pilots in mockery of the "dogfight"...and that ground troops developed a hatred of enemy fighters for strafing trenches full of men like fish in a barrel.)
But with wars end, the survivors got together. Even met the opposition from the Great War on friendly ground. And when they finally became old men who had outlived the best efforts of accomplished men like them to kill them in two wars - the media and Vet's groups again perked up as dwindling groups of fighter jocks slowly succumbed to the enemy that always wins in the end. About their over half century old meeting rituals, the bottle of champagne or brandy meant for the last survivor..

The last one barely lived to see the millenium. But many long enough to fly as guests in supersonic military jets, see man land on the moon in a craft that flew 16,600 MPH faster than their Sopwiths and Fokkers, and see nervous AF people revisit them and WWII vets to ask them for tips on tactics during Vietnam.

In America, there is now only one WWI Vet of any sort left alive. A 108 year old.

We mark the end of eras, or finally close a chapter of history with death of the last living survivor..if we are educated enough to be aware that the last man or women was part of something great or special in the past.
****************

The Grand Army of the Republic was the Vets of the Union Army. They followed Napoleon's "pensioners" as a dominant political force in the 19th century and partway into the 20th. In 1890, they had 490,000 dues-paying members that met in "GAR encampment". Some were stil active up to WWII. My grandfather's officer class in the late 30s was "inspired" by some old wizzened guy from the Civil War who showed up and had his own son give the same speech the old man did to one detachment of Pershing's force leaving in WWI, which was redrafted from a speech he gave to men mustering for the Spanish-American War.

The last GAR man, Albert Woolson, a 14-year old drummer boy, died in 1956.

William said...

Those who were alive in the sunlit bubble of the Edwardian Age thought that humanity had found the sure, truth path and that there was nothing ahead but greater heights and grander vistas. The sinking of the Titanic showed the mortality of those who walked with pomp and complacency on the first class deck. They were joined a few years later by the endless victims of WWI. I suppose that's what gives the Titanic its significance over other mass disasters. The General Slocum, the Lusitania, the Johnstown Flood were not examples of hubris and did not foreshadow greater tragedies to come. After 1914, Western Civilization became some vast killing machine for the greater part of fifty years. On the Titanic, the best citizens dressed for dinner and tried to behave well as it became obvious that their good life was an illusion and that it would all end badly. For several generations, people continued to have their own Titanic moment.....The walkway at Battery Park City reminded me of the promenade deck of a great ocean liner. There was fine view of the Statue of Liberty and the harbor on one side, and, on the other, of the twin towers of the WTC. After work, the Wall St crowd would walk along the promenade. The men took off their jackets and let their Brooks shirts flutter like topgallants in the wind. The women let the harbor breeze flutter under their skirt and through their hair. Everyone was very proud of their success and good looks and happy to be alive on such a fine day and in the company of such fine people.....After 9/11, I stopped going to the promenade. It was, after all, a place where several thousand people died. That was my Titanic moment.

Michael Hasenstab said...

My heart will go on.

Jen said...

If I make it to 90 (when Melvina was filmed here) I hope I'm half as gracious and lovely as she.

EDH said...

After hearing the tragic fate of her father, I'm so glad society has finally moved on, past the sexist and ageist ideology of "women and children first."

Ralph said...

My heart will go on.

And then it will stop.

rhhardin said...

Japan adds new deaths of Hiroshima survivors each year to the official bomb death toll.

Apparently blogs aren't big in Japan or somebody would have begun statistical ridicule.

tariely said...

Оса 800 электрошокер в Москве.