Have you ever just felt like another number? I’m sure you have because at one point or another aren’t we “just another number?”
Like when you make a call to one of those call-centres about a bill, one of the first things the person on the other end will ask you is, “what’s your account number please.”
Most of us will have a driver’s licence and on it will be that horrendously long number; we all have a Social Insurance Number(SIN); or a Health Card Number(OHIP in Ontario). When it comes to tax time, I’m pretty sure the computers at Revenue Canada just see you as a number.
No one wants to be thought of as only a number. We all have names and I really like it when people refer to me by my name and not some number. Who we are, our identity then is not tied up in a series of numbers. dashes and hyphens, but rather in something much more concrete and identifiable. Numbers are cold and calculating – not fun at all.
See, we’re more than just a number.
We have a name that is in a sense part of who we are as people. Our names are usually given to us at birth by our parents. Our first and middle names can take on significant meaning within a family. Maybe you were named after a favourite grandmother or grandfather; you get the idea.
With our last names, I guess we can’t usually do much about those. but they do connect us into something much bigger. Our last names might give a hint as to where your family originally came from; last names are part of our heritage.
Names are important.
The picture above is a gravestone at Fairview Lawn Cemetery in Halifax, Nova Scotia. If you haven’t figured it out yet, it is a grave marker for victim 241 of the Titanic disaster.
The Titanic grave site, although not high on most people’s vacation “must see or do lists” was very high on mine and someplace I felt really drawn to see. It was the very last place we stopped at on our vacation to PEI and day trip to Halifax.
The RMS Titanic sank in the early morning hours of April 15, 1912, after hitting an iceberg in the North Atlantic.
Immediately after the sinking, The White Star Line who owned the Titanic also had offices in Halifax. They commissioned four Canadian vessels, two of which were cable ships based out of Halifax.
The four ships managed to recover 328 bodies. They buried many at sea but did bring back 209 victims to Halifax.
The number on the grave marker refers to the number assigned to the victim found at the disaster site.
Number 241 is the 241st victim recovered.
The coroner at the time worked tirelessly to identify the victims, but 40 victims buried at the Fairview Lawn remain unidentified to this day.
Number 241 did have a name. In fact, he or she does have a name. The problem is we just don’t know what their name is. Maybe records exist that identify 241 as male or female; young or old. But, it certainly isn’t recorded on the grave marker.
And that’s the sad part. Victim 241 may have relatives living today. They may tell stories of that long gone family member was who sailing on The Titanic to start a new life for the family in North America.
They don’t know that perhaps the person identified as 241 is part of their family.
I think over time the story of The Titanic has almost taken on mythical proportions and because of this mythical evolution of the Titanic disaster, what gets missed is that there were real people, a lot of real people; families who perished that night.
Movies; books and displays all portray maybe something that most people maybe fail to grasp. Who after watching “Titanic” didn’t fall in love with the characters of Jack and Rose.
In fact, there is a victim(227) buried in the Titanic section at this cemetery. He shovelled coal to feed the massive engines in the bowels of the ship. Not a fancy or very glorious job.
His name was:
His grave has become a shrine to the movie and character of Jack Dawson.
Not real life though.
Mr. Dawson was a person; not some fictional character women all over the world fell in love with due to some fancy piece of fictional love storytelling.
Yup, to some extent I guess we’re all just a number someplace. But, the ironic part is we know that and for the most part, we acknowledge and accept it. We do have names we know; that our friends and family know as well. That in part is one component in defining who we are…….our name.
241 is just a number……..but here on a small piece of ground, 241 is much more than a number.
Victim 241 sailed and was a passenger on the RMS Titanic and died in the early morning hours of April 15, 1912. Victim 241 was a real person though, with hopes and dreams just like all of us.
Victim 241 isn’t just a number on a gravestone in a section of a cemetery that has taken on cult-like tourist status.
Nope…. 241 is a person and people are far more important and beautiful than any number assigned to them.
Thanks for reading.