End of the age of chivalry: how bravery took a nosedive with the Costa Concordia

[caption id="attachment_3860405" align="alignright" width="460" caption="Men on the capsized Costa Concordia didn't share the same "women and children first" mentality they did the the days of the Titanic | Courtesy of news.yahoo.com"][/caption] It was everyman for himself aboard the capsized Costa Concordia cruise liner. The tale of the ship's unfortunate fate will hardly be full of affectionate feelings for the captain vowing to go down with his ship as with the RMS Titanic. In fact, Italian authorities immediately placed Captain Francesco Schettino under arrest on suspicion of manslaughter and abandoning ship prematurely following the Jan. 13 accident in which his cruise ship was grounded off the coast of Tuscany. One hundred years ago this April, as the RMS Titanic reached its final minutes, Captain Edward J. Smith told his crew, “Men, you have done your full duty. You can do no more. Now it’s every man for himself.” The iconic phrase appears to have been the order of how the entire deadly Costa Concordia disaster played out. Men aboard the Costa Concordia apparently made sure the age of chivalry was dead and gone while making their way to the nearest exit. While women and children were once again given the priority in theory, the idea wasn’t necessarily practiced. According to the Daily Mail, one French passenger, Daniele Perruchon, said children were screaming, “I don’t want to die,” while the crew members pushed past them in effort to save themselves. Perruchon added, “At no time did anyone come and help us. We felt abandoned. So much for women and children first.” Andrea Davis from Calgary, Canada described the confusion to The Calgary Herald, “People were stampeding and bodies were flying and crashing into walls and doors were flying off hinges and glass was flying from the upper levels.” Davis was on vacation with her husband Laurence, who described the scene as “dog eat dog.” Aboard the Titanic there was order and courage thanks to the firm command of Capt. Smith. The story of the Titanic is filled with individual accounts of heroism and acceptance of death. Men surveyed the scene in their finest dinner jackets and when it became apparent there was no room aboard the lifeboats they stopped by the bar for their final drink. The picture of grace was the seven-member band that continued playing “Nearer My God to Thee” even as the water began to wash over their feet. Crew members enforced the order “women and children first” taking little consideration for their own survival. Of course there were those who made up for the Costa Concordia’s hysterical and cowardly captain. One of those brave souls was the ship’s cabin service director, Manrico Giampetroni who went back into flooding parts of the ship to direct passengers to safety. As the ship shifted, Giampetroni slipped, broke his leg and was discovered by rescuers in a partly submerged restaurant aboard the ship 36 hours later alive, according to Big Pond News. Although some may consider the behavior of those men aboard the Titanic somewhat absurd, their classic virtues and chivalrous ways never wavered right up until the end. Benjamin Guggenheim changed his clothes that night in 1912: “We’ve dressed in our best and are prepared to go down like gentlemen.” He gave a survivor a message saying, “Tell my wife…I played the game out straight to the end. No woman shall be left aboard this ship because Ben Guggenheim was a coward,” sentiments obviously not shared by the twenty-first century passenger.

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