The Titanic’s sinking was one of the most iconic tragedies as it claimed 1,497 lives on April 21, 1912. But unlike other vessels that had been claimed by the sea, few would later also become such a staple of the romantic image of the era. But one of the great mysteries of this ship’s sinking has finally been solved almost a century later with the identification of one of the lives lost on that ship. Though certainly sad, this mystery has finally come to an end.
The child, who was found almost a week after the ship sank remained unidentified for some time, being misidentified under the wrong names twice. He originally was said by researchers to be Gosta Leonard Palsson. But after over ten years of searching and medical tests for DNA, the true identity has finally been confirmed. And one of the children who had vanished has finally had his name brought to light as the missing boy.
This discovery can be attributed to Ryan Parr, who first became interested in the lost victims of the Titanic after watching a documentary on the subject. Parr, who asked the permission of the Palsson family at the start of his long journey, took them to a lab where he extracted DNA from the bone and teeth that had been left behind after all these years. Armed with his determination, knowledge, and technical abilities he set about attempting to determine if the Palssons truly were related. What he found was shocking.
There were two possibilities left, Eino Viljami Panula who had been 13, and Sidney Goodwin. Eventually as they came across shoes of the child, they found them to be far too large to belong to Panula. With the assistance of further tests, they only now have determined the identity to be a confirmed match for Goodwin.
But though this latest mystery has been solved, there are still several others left with the ship that sank that cold April night. Someone stepping onto the Titanic on that maiden voyage that was said to be unsinkable had less than a one in five chance of ever seeing dry land again. And somehow, despite the fact that it was a year short of a century ago, somehow the wounds of this tragedy still run deep today. Perhaps it is because when the Titanic sank we were not only losing the lives of so many innocents. Perhaps the sinking of the Titanic was a symbol representing the end of an era. Prior to the ship’s sinking, no major technological marvel had ever failed so catastrophically. When the Titanic did eventually come against the raw power of one of the forces of Nature, mankind was forced to take a long look at itself as a being that had not yet achieved complete independence. One that could still be felled by the very force that he had been struggling to overcome. To see the Titanic’s mortality, we see our own.