Artifacts Help Us Honor the Memories
In the scene where Brock Lovett and his crew discover the drawing of Rose in the 1997 movie, "Titanic," the question is asked, "Should this have remained at the bottom of the ocean, unseen?"
I believe the answer is NO. Yes, it was a tragedy, a disaster, a horrible event. But, to leave everything at the wreck site completely undisturbed does not honor the memory of those who perished. Instead, it closes off our access to their memory, to our understanding of their lives, to our ability to touch the human aspects of an unimaginable event.
The passage of time creates more of a gulf between us and the Titanic than miles of ocean ever could. There are no living survivors, and what's left of the wreck is decaying faster and faster. While we can continue to create books, documentaries, and movies about the sinking, we can only do so from our own point in time -- one that becomes increasingly more distant from historical reality.
Artifacts perform several functions: They memorialize the victims in an intimately human, unforgettable manner. They provide immediate and irrefutable links to the details and the realities of Titanic. They chronicle the "way it was." They allow us to see, touch, and remember the past, and to honor those who are gone.
We should recover what we can, treasure it, and preserve it for future generations, so that the memory of those aboard Titanic will never be forgotten.