One of the little known Washington, D.C. monuments is the Titanic Memorial that was supported by Helen Taft to be erected in May 1931. This memorial honors the men who gave up their lives so that women and children might be saved. It is not located on 4th and P Streets SW, but was originally located where the Kennedy Center now stands.
Major Archibald Butt
Major Archibald Butt, who was lost in the sinking, served under both President Howard Taft and President Theodore Roosevelt; who also considered him friend. His eulogy will later be written by the saddened Taft. He had earlier suggested him to President Taft, who was impressed with his hard work and organizational abilities. He would become one of the closest comrades to Roosevelt as well; who could keep up with his active pursuits. These included hiking, climbing and playing tennis. He became indispensable for organizing White House events; which prior to that could be very chaotic. He stayed on as a military aid when Taft took office. He also further assisted with social engagements as well as budget issues. He was also a fixture when President Taft threw out the ball in 1910 and 1911 baseball seasons for the Nationals.
When the impending election of his two friends (Roosevelt and Taft had a falling out) were possibly going to run against each other; therefore dividing his loyalties; he felt exhausted and depressed. He took a leave of absence before the upcoming presidential primaries. After his six week European Vacation (don't mistake with the Lampoon's), he booked his trip home on the luxury liner to match his grandiose personality.
Reportedly Butt was playing cards in the first-class smoking room on April 14th when the ship struck the iceberg. His final moments have widely been in debate; one such account not as embellished as brandishing guns or sending on children and wives to safety. He was reportedly seen on deck with John Jacob Astor watching the passengers leave. His body was never recovered.
John Jacob Astor
John Jacob Astor was another interesting character that was on the Titanic. He lost his life on the liner along with Major Butt. Coming from the closest to American royalty at the time, he was a real estate builder, investor, inventor and military officer in the Spanish American War. At the time, he was considered one of the richest men in the world with a fortune valued at $87 million. He was clouded in scandal at the time of his death. He previously was married to another socialite Ava Lowle Willing- who he had two children with. He divorced her in 1909 and announced his immediate remarriage. He sought to marry Madeline Talmage Force, the sister of Katherine Emmons Force who was a real estate businesswoman. Madeline was 18 years old at the time with a 29 year age gap between the pair. His son stood as best man despite his hatred of the interloper. They took an extended honeymoon, partially to escape the swirling rumors and his peers who spurned him.
The young bride became pregnant and the pair decided to return home. They boarded the Titanic at Cherbourg. They brought their favorite laptop- Kitty. They loved the dog as if it was a child. Kitty later did not survive the sinking (I know you were going to ask). Astor realized the ship had hit an iceberg but had assured her not to worry. They continued to play in the gymnasium on the mechanical horses.
Astor assisted his wife, nurse and maid into the lifeboat 4 when Second Officer Charles Lightoller came on A Deck. Lightoller told Astor he was not allowed to join his wife until all women and children had been loaded (despite her being in a delicate condition). He verified her life boat number to meet with her later. There are conflicting stories as to whether he assisted two scared children into a lifeboat after or Ida Sophia Hippach along with her 17 year old daughter Jean Gertrude. He was last seen smoking a cigarette on the starboard bridge wing.
A half hour later, the ship disappeared beneath the waves. HIs body was later recovered- his gold pocket watch was claimed by his son Vincent who wore it the rest of his life.
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