The WABAC Machine

No, I am not channeling either Mister Peabody or his boy Sherman today. But if you get the reference, you win a cookie.

Over my years (52 and counting so far) there have been a lot of noteworthy events. Some even happening to me. Part of the niceties of the Internet is being allowed to share some of them from time to time. Not that all of them are worth sharing, either…

For example, while this last weekend was the big 100 for the sinking of the Titanic, it also was the 150th for the Great Locomotive Chase and the 40th for the Apollo 13 mission. And coming up later this week, the 106th anniversary of the San Francisco Earthquake and Fire. And for buffs of history of that kind, this month also saw some historic dates in the War of Northern Aggression with the firing on Fort Sumter and the Battle of Shiloh.

At the time, many of these events were looked upon as important. As time passes, maybe legends grow which make them seem all the greater in context to their day. For example, the Titanic captured imaginations as the Unsinkable Ship. It’s luxury and technology was the talk of the day, representing a pinnacle in human achievement. Only to be done in by another pinnacle, albeit a submerged one. According to Wikipedia, “The death toll has been put at between 1,490 and 1,635 people.” Yet it was not the worst maritime disaster in history. That may be said to be the sinking of the Wilhelm Gustloff (a German ship torpedoed by a Soviet submarine) on January 30th, 1945. An estimated loss of life of 9,400 passengers (including 4,00 children) and crew is far less known that the immortalized Titanic.

The role we play in shaping history may escape us on a day to day basis. Yet, years from now, stories from people who lived events such as the collapse of the Twin Towers in New York on September 11th, 2001 will bring those moments to life for the curious future historians. In the case of the San Francisco Earthquake and Fire, tales of ordinary people have far more to tell and in far more interesting ways than any crafted fictions about those days.

Indeed, truth is far stranger than fiction. Living in strange times will do that to us all.


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