It can be easy to forget that we live on the same island that once produced the largest moving object ever made by man, that generations of Harland & Wolff workers forged Belfast’s reputation as the engineering capital of the world, and that its most famous ship – the Titanic – would go on to inspire the first film to break the billion-dollar mark at the box office. So it’s fitting that the Titanic Hotel and visitor attraction in Belfast was a world-leading tourist destination before they opened their doors, in 2017 and 2012 respectively.
A new expedition to the wreck of the Titanic has been announced for summer 2022, but it comes at a hefty price. Only around 250 people have glimpsed the wreckage since it was discovered on the seabed in 1985, but a small group will make the epic two-mile journey to the site on the ocean floor next year. Oceangate Expeditions, which offers underwater expeditions across the world, has announced its second annual trip to the ship’s final resting place. It will see ‘mission specialists,’ along with researchers, survey the vessel up close from inside the company’s submersible Titan. The group of citizen explorers will travel 12,500ft beneath the North Atlantic Ocean to survey the famous Belfast-built liner that sank in April 1912. The Titanic Expedition is conducted as a series of eight-day missions in May and June but each seat now costs $250,000 – a $125,000 increase on last year.
At the same time, they were the source of inspiration for the story of the movie “Titanic”, and their image, from the movie, where they appear embraced on the bed, waiting for the end of life, has been taken over and reimagined since the film’s release. Along with other notable passengers, such as John Jacob Astor IV and Molly Brown, Isidor and Ida Straus embarked aboard the Titanic on April 10, 1912, bound for New York.
Interesting Photo of Titanic Quarter from Jason McIntosh
Advent on the Christian calendar is a season of preparation for the birth of Jesus. It is a season of joy leading up to Christmas Day and also a time of preparation similar to Lent. Prayer, fasting and penance are part of the Advent season. The rules are not as strict as Lent but a time of self-preparation. The color purple is associated with penance. Each Advent Sunday is meant to ready oneself for rejoicing at the birth of Jesus that is to come. The Third Sunday of Advent is the anticipatory celebration and the color rose is used to represent joy.
The Advent wreath
Many homes and churches will have an Advent wreath to symbolize the season, and to mark each Sunday as it happens. The practice began by German Lutherans in the 18th century as a means of teaching Advent to children. The practice began to spread to Catholics and other Christian denominations as well.
Advent wreaths are circular to show that God’s love is infinite and is made with evergreen leaves. It used to be a family event to gather the leaves and make the wreath. The practice has resurfaced in recent years as many families now do this again. Advent wreaths made of artificial evergreens are available in a wide series of designs. Handmade ones can be made to last many years.
The day after Thanksgiving in the United States has been called Black Friday for quite a long time, yet its origins are somewhat confusing owing to some clever remaking of the day by the retailers.
Its historical origins had nothing to do with Thanksgiving but a financial crisis in 1869. On 23 September 1869 a crash occurred in the U.S gold markets that was likely triggered by the actions of Jim Fisk and Jay Gould who tried to buy up as much gold as they could. In doing so, it drove the price of gold sky-high allowing them to sell at a huge profit. When their actions became known, it sent the gold market crashing down but also spread to the stock market resulting in bankers and farmers losing substantial sums of money. Thus, that date on a Friday became known as Black Friday.
The link to retail appears to come from a story about making huge profits on the day after Thanksgiving. In origin story, retailers lived on or near the infamous red line. That red line means they are operating at a near loss or in fact “in the red” meaning they were not making profits. The day after Thanksgiving brought in so many shoppers that they went into the black (meaning making profits), so it became known a Black Friday. While this version is somewhat accurate in that many retailers looked forward to the start of the Christmas season to generate high revenues, it is not the origin of Black Friday either. Shopping on the day after Thanksgiving, often considered the start of the Christmas season in the United States, does give an indicator as to what consumers are willing to spend If the economy is good. On the other hand, if the economy is not doing well people may not spend much and only buy things they need and items on sale.
There are some who believe it has ties to racism on Southern plantations in the 1800’s. According to this story, it is claimed that owners would buy slaves at a discount on the day after Thanksgiving. This has led to some in the African American community to call for the boycott of stores on Back Friday. Except there appears to be no basis for this story. So far nothing has been found to show that slave auctions of this kind took place the day after Thanksgiving in that era. Like misinterpreting the word picnic as racist (picnic comes from a French word about eating outside and has nothing to do with race), this appears to have been created to fit someone’s perspective on the origins of the day.
The modern use of the term in fact comes from the 1950’s and from the city of Philadelphia. Police called it Black Friday to describe all the chaos that ensued from shoppers racing to shop before the Army-Navy game that was held on Saturday. The bedlam was so bad that no day off was granted to police on this day to deal with the hordes of cars and people in the city. Another factor was that criminals would take advantage of the large crowds to steal wallets, purses, and of course shoplift as well. Retailers were not happy with this connotation and tried unsuccessfully to change it to “Big Friday.” This was unsuccessful, so they tried to remake the day by saying this was the day retailers needed to make a profit. This appears to have worked and the darker roots from Philadelphia have been largely forgotten.
By remaking the day using sales to drive people into stores, it became an event on its own that spawned other major retails days. Black Friday was marketed as a day to get great bargains and all the major retailers jumped aboard. People began lining up early and some retailers decided to open on Thanksgiving (usually in the evening) to take advantage of the desire to buy discounted items. Ironically it then created things that harkened back to Philadelphia. In recent years when stores opened to the throngs waiting outside, chaos ensued when people raced into the store to grab what they wanted. People got trampled, fights broke out between adults bickering over who was entitled to the product. Many stores started to regulate the number of people in their store at any given time. This has been somewhat successful but when a surge of people all stampede at the door, the best the security guards can do is jump aside or be trampled on.
While Philadelphia is rarely mentioned, the chaos outside usually hearkens back to it. Mall parking lots are jammed, streets are full of cars trying to get in or out, and even freeways near those shopping malls are impacted as well. Up in the air, helicopters fly overhead filming the chaos below. And in major cities or areas where crowds are enormous, the police are often around to manage as best they can the traffic and crime that is going on. The Internet has made a dent, but you must wait for the product to arrive, so it is off to the store! In recent years retailers had started opening on Thanksgiving so people could get in early. Some like Target have rethought that and now are closed for Thanksgiving Day. And that is a good sign. Thanksgiving is a special holiday that should be treated on its own. And Black Friday is all about the shopping.
OceanGate Expeditions announces its second annual expedition to the wreck of the Titanic, the 2022 Titanic Expedition. OceanGate Expeditions will charter the Cyclops-class carbon fiber and titanium submersible, Titan, to carry crewmembers to the historic maritime heritage site which sits at 3,800 meters on the floor of the North Atlantic Ocean. Citizen explorers, trained as Mission Specialists, will join a cadre of archaeologists, marine biologists, and Titanic experts on the second annual expedition to study and document the Titanic in more detail than ever before. The Titan submersible is outfitted with the latest camera technologies to capture ultra-high-resolution imagery that will help determinethe wreck’s rate of decay and assess the marine life that dwell on the wreck.
Firstly, she looked at CS Mackay-Bennett, a recovery boat that ended up finding the majority of the victims of the tragedy. She continued: “The recovery boat didn’t leave Nova Scotia until three days after the wreckage and didn’t arrive at the site until a full week later. By this time, bodies had scattered and been exposed to the elements like sea life and birds, so the men didn’t find pristine preserved corpses floating on the surface.” According to Caitlin, many of the bodies did cluster together “like a flock of seagulls in their white life jackets”. The first day, they recovered 51 bodies, and in total, the Mackay-Bennett recovered 306 bodies. She continued: “Another boat recovered 17, another boat recovered three, yet another boat recovered three people in a lifeboat a month later over 200 miles away.” Because of this, it would be impossible to figure out how many people sank to the bottom of the ocean or floated away.
They belong to Bruce’s grandson whom Clifford visited and spoke to at his home in Scotland – and, he says, they tell a very different story about this so-called cowardly man. One thing they redress is the criticism Bruce received for resigning from the White Star Line after the disaster “Documents show Bruce had actually planned to retire before Titanic sailed and had found a successor in Harold Sanderson,” says Clifford. “Also he wanted to give up the presidency of International Mercantile Marine Company – the White Star’s American parent company – but actually continue as chairman of the White Star Line, but the remaining directors didn’t want him to remain as chair in the end.” Clifford explains he hadn’t really wanted to be president of IMM in the first place and only accepted the post reluctantly after his colleagues persuaded him. So it wasn’t as if he had jumped ship after the disaster like a coward.
The historic Titanic pump-house is set to become a whiskey distillery and new tourist attraction. Titanic Distillers have been given the green light for the redevelopment of the listed building by Belfast City Council planning committee. Based in the heart of the Titanic Quarter, it first opened in 1911 alongside its neighbouring dock and the distillery will also feature a visitors attraction so that people will be able to see the authentic Titanic landmark. Titanic Distillers Director Richard Irwin, said the company was excited that the application had been approved.
Now, a hundred years since Northern Ireland was born, this industrial site has been transformed into one of the country’s main tourism draws, home to the Titanic Belfast attraction and several historic maritime sites. The slipways where the Titanic was built are now a top outdoor performance venue in Belfast, which has just been awarded UNESCO City of Music status in recognition of its dynamic live music scene. The yards also grace the big screen in Kenneth Branagh’s new movie, Belfast, inspired by his childhood here during the turbulent 1960s.
And for your Thanksgiving Day. Here is an excerpt from the now infamous Turkey Drop episode of WKRP.
Thanksgiving was not an official national holiday until 1863. A letter from a 74-year magazine editor, Sarah Josepha Hale, inspired President Abraham Lincoln to create a national holiday. She wrote in 1863 that we needed to have a national day of Thanksgiving so that everyone could celebrate it on the same day. At the time Thanksgiving was celebrated by the various states but not on the same date. She wanted President Lincoln to make it a national day so it would become a permanent part of “American custom and institution.”
According to Abraham Lincoln Online , other presidents had ignored such requests. Lincoln decided to act on her request and directed a proclamation be drawn up. On 3 October 1863, President Lincoln’s proclamation that establishes Thanksgiving as a national day was issued. It sets aside the last Thursday of November as a “day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our Father who dwelleth in the Heavens.” Secretary of State William Seward actually drafted the proclamation which Lincoln signed. Thanksgiving became a national holiday and was celebrated on that date until 1939. President Roosevelt in 1939, 1940 and 1941 changed it to the third Thursday (to extend the Christmas season) causing considerable controversy. A joint resolution of Congress in 1941 resolved it by decreeing Thanksgiving would fall on the fourth Thursday of November.
Lincoln’s proclamation was written during the American Civil War, a terrible time in U.S. history. Today we forget why this day was made a national holiday. It was to thank God for the blessings of liberty but also to ask his help. In our politically correct times, this proclamation is not always read in full or edited. So here is the original proclamation. Read it and understand why Lincoln thought a national day of Thanksgiving was needed for the United States of America.
— Proclamation Establishing Thanksgiving Day October 3, 1863
The year that is drawing towards its close, has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies. To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source from which they come, others have been added, which are of so extraordinary a nature, that they cannot fail to penetrate and soften even the heart which is habitually insensible to the ever watchful providence of Almighty God. In the midst of a civil war of unequalled magnitude and severity, which has sometimes seemed to foreign States to invite and to provoke their aggression, peace has been preserved with all nations, order has been maintained, the laws have been respected and obeyed, and harmony has prevailed everywhere except in the theatre of military conflict; while that theatre has been greatly contracted by the advancing armies and navies of the Union. Needful diversions of wealth and of strength from the fields of peaceful industry to the national defence, have not arrested the plough, the shuttle, or the ship; the axe had enlarged the borders of our settlements, and the mines, as well of iron and coal as of the precious metals, have yielded even more abundantly than heretofore. Population has steadily increased, notwithstanding the waste that has been made in the camp, the siege and the battle-field; and the country, rejoicing in the consciousness of augmented strength and vigor, is permitted to expect continuance of years, with large increase of freedom.
No human counsel hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy. It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently and gratefully acknowledged as with one heart and voice by the whole American people. I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens. And I recommend to them that while offering up the ascriptions justly due to Him for such singular deliverances and blessings, they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience, commend to his tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged, and fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty Hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquillity and Union.
In testimony whereof, I have hereunto set my hand, and caused the seal of the United States to be affixed. Done at the city of Washington, this third day of October, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-three, and of the independence of the United States the eighty-eighth. A. Lincoln
On 21 November 1916, HMHS Britannic was sunk by mine near the island of Kea in the Aegean Sea. The ship sank in 55 minutes and 1,035 people were rescued, only 30 perished. Britannic was the third and last ship of the Olympic class liners built by White Star Line. The other two were Olympic and Titanic. Britannic was launched in February 1914. Many design changes were made prior to launch due to lessons learned from Titanic. Those changes were:
Double hull along the engine and boiler rooms raising six of the watertight bulkheads up to B deck.
More powerful turbine installed due to increase in hull width.
Watertight compartments were enhanced so that the ship can stay afloat with six compartments flooded.
Motorized davits to launch six lifeboats (only five out of eight were installed before war service). Manual operated davits were used for the remaining lifeboats. The new design also allowed all lifeboats to be launched even if the ship was listing. There were 55 lifeboats with capacity for 75 each so that 3,600 people could be carried.
When World War I broke out, the ship had to be retrofitted as a hospital ship. Most of the furnishings were stored in a warehouse to be placed back aboard after the war. The Britannic began service as a hospital ship on 12 December 1915. She was sent to the Aegean Sea to bring back sick and wounded soldiers. Her first tour of service was ended on 6 June 1916 and she was sent back to Belfast to be refitted back as a passenger liner. As this was underway, the ship was again recalled to military service on 26 August 1916 and was sent back to the Mediterranean Sea.
On the morning of 21 November 1916, the Britannic under the command of Captain Alfred Barnett was steaming into the Kea Channel when at 8:12 am a loud explosion shook the ship. The explosion, unknown at the time whether it was a torpedo or mine, damaged the first four watertight compartments and rapidly filled with water. Water was also flowing into the boiler room. Captain Bartlett ordered the watertight doors closed, sent a distress call, and ordered the lifeboats be prepared. Unfortunately, while they could send messages, damage to the antenna wires meant they could not hear the responses back from ships responding to their SOS. Britannic was reaching her flooding limit and open portholes (opened by nurses to ventilate wards) were bringing more water in as well.
As the ship was still moving, Bartlett did not order lifeboats be lowered but two lifeboats were lowered anyway. They were sucked into the ships propellor and torn to bits killing everyone in those two lifeboats. Bartlett ordered the ship stopped to assess the damage. The ship was listing so badly that the gantry davits were inoperable. Thinking the sinking had slowed, he ordered the engines back on to try and beach the ship. The flooding increased as more water was coming in aided by the open portholes the nurses had opened to air out their wards early in the morning. Bartlett ordered the engines stopped and to abandon ship. She would sink at 9:07 am, 55 minutes after the explosion. Thankfully the water temperature was high (70 F), they had more lifeboats than Titanic, and rescue came less than two hours. Nearby fisherman were able to help and at 10:00 am, the HMS Scourge arrived and later the HMS Heroic and later the HMS Foxhound.
1,035 survived. Of the 30 lost, only five were buried as their bodies were not recovered. Memorials in Thessaloniki and London honor those lives lost. Survivors were housed on the warships and the nurses and officers were put into hotels. Most survivors were sent home, and some arrived in time for Christmas. Speculation about whether it was a torpedo or a mine was resolved when it was learned that a German submarine (SM U-73) had planted mines in the Kea Channel in October 1916. The loss of two Olympic class ships was a major blow to White Star Line. They would get, as a result of the Treaty of Versailles, the German ocean liner Bismarck (renamed Majestic), which replaced Britannic. They also got Columbus which was named Homeric.
Britannic has been largely forgotten except when news of expeditions were made to the wreck site over the years. The wreck itself was bought by noted author Simon Mills, who has written two books on the ship. An expedition in September 2003 located by sonar mine anchors confirming German records of U-73 that Britannic was sunk by a single mine. The expedition found several watertight doors open making it likely the mine strike was during a watch change on the ship. One notable survivor was Violet Jessop. She had been on Olympic as stewardess when it collided with the HMS Hawke, aboard Titanic in the same capacity when it sank, and then aboard Britannic as a stewardess with the Red Cross.
On 19 November 1863 President Abraham Lincoln delivered what would be the most memorable speech given by a president in U.S. history. He was attending the dedication of the Soldier’s National Cemetery (now called Gettysburg National Cemetery) in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. Four and a half months prior the Battle of Gettysburg had taken place resulting in a major victory for the Union armies. The casualties to both sides were considerable. It also had the highest number of Confederate and Union generals who died in battle as well.
Edward Everett, the best orator of the time, delivered a two hour speech preceding Lincoln’s. When Lincoln spoke, it was only for a few minutes. His speech was only 271 words long after the long speech of Everett’s, so it could have been easily forgotten. People attending gave different accounts of how it was received. Some said a dignified silence, others polite applause. Edward Everett thought it was well done and said so to Lincoln in a letter. Once the text got out to the general public, Democrat leaning newspapers derided it while Republican ones praised. The Times of London thought it a ludicrous speech.
Yet this speech would become famous. It would become oft quoted and praised by many as time went on. Far from being ludicrous, as the Times of London thought it was, it became a standard for other orators to try and emulate. And his eloquent words: “that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom — and that government of the people, by the people, shall not perish from the earth,” are still stirring to this day.
The Gettysburg Address
Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.
Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battle-field of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.
But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate — we can not consecrate — we can not hallow — this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us — that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion — that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain — that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom — and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.
On 16 November 1941, Joseph Goebbels publishes in the German magazine Das Reich that the “Jews wanted the war, and now they have it.” This was part of the Nazi propaganda scheme to shift blame for the war to Jews and thus rationalizing the Final Solution–the elimination of Jews. German soldiers and the SS were infused with this propaganda and anti-Communist rhetoric to carry out their task of eliminating the Jews with enthusiasm.
[T]he prophecy which the Fuhrer made…that should international finance Jewry succeed in plunging the nations into a world war once again, the result would not be the Bolshevization of the world…but the annihilation of the Jewish race in Europe. We are in the midst of that process…Compassion or regret are entirely out of place here.
We’re so used to hearing tales of doom and tragedy about the sinking of the Titanic that’s it’s surprising to find a funny story about it. As a major exhibition prepares to open in London next year at an as-yet-undisclosed location to mark the 110th anniversary of the 1912 tragedy, MyLondon is investigating the lives of the Londoners who were aboard the ill-fated ship. In the process, MyLondon came across the rather incredible yet touching story of the 22-year-old signalman who was cracking up in fits of laughter while sending SOS signals from the freezing ship.
He’s infamous as the sailor who was blamed by some for the sinking of the Titanic, but the collection of medals which belonged to David Blair reveal his true heroism. In his haste to disembark, however, he forgot to leave a key which was needed in the crow’s nest to access binoculars and a telescope. As such, Blair is known to history for his unwitting part in the sinking – but the officer had in fact won a series of prestigious medals for his bravery and military service. Roughly a year after the Titanic sank, Aldridge was serving as first officer on the SS Majestic – another White Star ocean liner – when he swam to the rescue of a drowning man who had thrown himself overboard. For his bravery, King George V awarded Blair a Sea Gallantry Medal at Buckingham Palace. He earned further medals during the First World War, when he served with distinction in the navy.
The Titanic Centre in Belfast is one of the island’s most popular attractions. Located next to the Titanic slipways and the former shipyard Drawing Offices, the centre is at the heart of where the Titanic was planned, designed, built and launched. It took Belfast a long time to come to terms with the Titanic’s fate. The Titanic Centre was opened to mark the centenary of the sinking. The long gestation was due to a mixture of shame and embarrassment surrounding the ship’s tragic end. For a long time, the city’s tour guides quipped “she was all right when she left here” but ultimately it was realised that other cities around the world such as Halifax, Nova Scotia and Orlando, Florida were telling a story, through exhibitions, that could really only be told properly in Belfast.