Sunday, Jan. 13, marked the one-year anniversary of Costa Concordia, the almost 300-metre long cruise ship, sinking near Isola del Giglio (Giglio Island), killing 32 of the 4200 passengers and crew.
The commemorations began after dawn with a mass headed by the local Bishop, followed by an honouring of the rescue teams, the unveiling of a memorial for the 32 deceased, an evening concert and finally, a minute of silence. All were present at the ceremony except for the survivors, who were told not to come to the event in a letter sent out by the ship’s owner.
The excuse for the decision was that the family members of the deceased needed privacy to mourn. However, I believe survivors should have had the opportunity to attend the one-year anniversary. They faced this traumatic incident along with the deceased and need to go back and face the past in order to get closure.
According to the National Post, who interviewed the survivors, many are still suffering from trauma to the point where some cannot live their lives normally.
“[Survivor] Urru, her husband and two sons haven’t left their home island of Sardinia in the year since the grounding: They’re still so terrified of boats that they won’t go near the ferry that connects Sardinia to mainland Italy.”
Members of the Ananias family reportedly feel guilty and wonder why they survived instead of the other family they met on the ship. Going back to the island on the anniversary would have been a good way for all of these survivors to get closure and make peace with the disaster that unfolded before them.
I understand that the families of the deceased wish to mourn, but the solution is a simple one: the organizers could have had the ceremony for them an hour before the official commemorations began. Another excuse given was that the island could not possibly hold all those people. However, as the National Post stated, the survivors spent the night in a church on the island the night of the terrible shipwreck, which means that if they fit there once, they can do it again. I think the real reason why survivors were refused on the island during the anniversary was to avoid bad publicity for the ship’s company seeing as there would be a film crew there interviewing all who came to the ceremony.
Denying the survivors the right to go to the commemoration was a bad decision—they can’t get the closure that some of them so desperately need. Instead of encouraging them to face the past, they were encouraged to hide away at home.
This was a moment that all the people affected will remember for the rest of their lives and everyone should have been invited to pay their respects.