May is not always just a month of change, it is a month of reflection, revival, and growth.

Not just in seasonal and allegorical ways, either, but in historical, individual ways.

On May 1, 1915, the RMS Lusitania set out from her American port en route to Liverpool. She was a ship of wonder, the equivalent of The White Star Line’s Titanic, famously lost three years earlier, a rival of the Cunard line’s crowning glory, and icon of Edwardian engineering and maritime pride.

She never made it back home through the ‘war zones’ of Britain, and fell in spectacle on May 7, 1915, to the bottom of the sea, seven miles off the southern coast of Ireland, in vantage point from the lighthouse that caps the cliff of ‘The Old Head of Kinsale’; with 1,198 souls lost, many of them Americans, the murder of the Lusitania outraged the American public, and set off a spark of American involvement in the growing war in Europe. Sailing through hostile German naval territory, the Lusitania was torpedoed on her starboard side by a German U-boat, and sunk in eighteen minutes. Not only a catastrophe in it’s own right, a turning point that would herald the first ever global war, ‘An End of Innocence’, a catharsis of ideals, and an American cultural revolution, but the bringing to life of new ideas, and the sobering rethinking of mankind’s expressions of ingenuity, ones that would shift from technological marvels like the Lusitania to other modes of individual, literary, and artistic ‘expression’ that would emerge through and beyond ‘The Roaring Twenties.’

Of course, I cannot help (again) to make parallels with the currents of protest now running through the nation. The uprising in Baltimore, though in a sense drastically ‘different’ from the chain of events, the loss of the Lusitania being one of them, that initiated a global crisis, is also in another sense remarkably similar — it is another distinctly ‘American’ opportunity to embrace change.

Did Wharton see the sinking of the Lusitania as the end of her ‘beloved’ (sarcasm, of course) Gilded Age ideals? Her purpose for her writing? The transformation of tragedy and unrest into a rethinking of ‘American’ values? I really have no clue, and I’m not sure that the opinions of a rich, privileged, dead white woman at this point could really lend much value towards a conversation about chronic, race-based inequality and unrest in 21st-Century America. ­čÖé But it is certain that the Great War that followed catapulted her desire into assisting directly on the front lines and in the relief effort. And, I will speculate, that May 1915 may have been the month, the year, the ‘turning point’, the true wake-up-call for not just America and the world on the heels of war, but for the cynical, the brusk, the inert, the snobbish Edith Wharton, to leave her pen and paper, her failed marriage, her elaborate estate, behind, and spread the light that she had once so brashly and mercilessly denied all of her characters — and to some extent, herself — into the lives of real people, other people, people caught up in the turmoil of World War One.

May 1915. This, not all but just Wharton could likely see, was a, if not the, definitive moment of the century, the ultimate uprising and unrest of a generation, the spark of change that would, perhaps, ‘make all else clear’ …

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~ May I?

 Remembering the Lusitania ~

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May 2015 … bring forth fruit.

May 2015 … bring back light.

May 2015 … tear down hearts of stone.

May 2015 … raise up spirits of truth.

May 2015 … uproot the weeds of fear.

May 2015 … plant the seeds of love.

May 2015 … be not month, year, but purpose.

May 2015 … revive, restore, souls, bound by time.

May 2015 … renew polluted minds.

May 2015 … release the ties that bind.

May 1915 … bring us through these wars.

May 1915 … bring our nation hope, color, glory, again.

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~ Lusitania! She is not dead! She has been sailing with us all along. ~

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