As you most certainly have heard by now, this weekend marked the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic. Something you might not know is that at the end of the SW Waterfront’s wharf is a little known memorial erected by women who wanted to honor the men who sacrificed their lives so that women and children could live.
Located along the waterfront at the end of Fourth and P streets SW is The Women’s Titanic Memorial. It was originally unveiled in 1931 and located along the waterfront in Rock Creek Park but was removed in 1966 to make room for the Kennedy Center. The memorial was not placed at its new home until 1968.
Few people know about the memorial but every year on the anniversary it is the site of a special ceremony held by the Men’s Titanic Society. In 1979 a group of men met and made their way to the statue as a way to “toast those brave men.” The act has since become a tradition, beginning with a formal black tie dinner reminiscent of the last meal on board, followed by a processional to the memorial and short speeches by each member to toast the men that died. A bell is rung three times to begin the ceremony and again to mark its conclusion, with champagne flowing throughout so that each speaker can properly toast those who died.
It is certainly a sight to be seen and one that will make you think. These men have a true respect for the chivalry and selflessness shown the night the ship went down. I am not sure if the phrase “women and children first” really started as a result of the wreck, but the men on board certainly displayed one of the greatest examples of such a sentiment, something that has not been lost to this group.
If you ever find yourself bored on the night of April 14, meet at this great monument between 11:30 and midnight for this interesting ceremony. Some come back year after year to watch while others are satisfied by one visit- who knows which one you might be!
Other great things are going on around town to honor the Titanic. The National Geographic Museum is hosting a special exhibit that will go on from now until July 8. In addition, the Postal Museum has a special exhibit of letters and artifacts from the Titanic as well as the Hindenburg. This exhibit runs from now until January 2014. For more information on these as well as the memorial, take a look at the links below.
US Postal Museum – “Fire and Ice: Hindenburg and Titanic” Now – January 6, 2014
Men’s Titanic Society toasts the Titanic’s ‘brave men’ – Washington Post