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Sinking Fast

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By ABRAHIM ORABI
CONTRIBUTING WRITER
abrahim.orabi@chp.edu
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When does a tragedy cease to resonate? I only ask because today, one hundred years ago, was a tragic day…but most of us feel nothing. In recent years it seems that we have been condemned to repeat this tragedy as aresult of forgetting it.

On May 7, 1915 a passenger ship called the Lusitania was spotted by a German U-boat and struck by a single torpedo. In 18 minutes the ship and nearly 1200 of its passengers were on the ocean floor. Sound familiar?

If not, consider this. The presence of German U-boats in the North Atlantic was well known during the days and weeks leading up to May 7, 1915. Several British Destroyers and small passenger carriers were torpedoed or shot immediately prior to the Lusitania disaster. British intelligence intercepted every German communication. The exact location and course of every German U-boat was known and documented…in secret. There was no mystery. British intelligence was fully aware of the danger that lay ahead for the Lusitania. They knew it…and nothing was done. No naval escort and no re-routing instructions. Winston Churchill was even reported to have stated that endangering the Lusitania could have its own advantages. The implication was that compromising the Lusitania (and its 159 American passengers) would give the U.S. an excuse to enter the War and greatly help England secure victory over the German super-power.

The parallels between the sinking of the Lusitania and more recent events of the 21st century are disturbing. Not only has history repeated itself; we seem to have learned from it…and not in a good way.

If these events have taught us anything, it’s that countries are willing to sacrifice the lives of innocent people to pursue war. What’s worse, we stand oblivious to the crimes before us and are made to believe that the perpetrators are our protectors. On this day, I’d ask that we all take a moment to educate ourselves on our not-so-distant past. After all, those who forget it are bound to repeat it.

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Sinking Fast