The last known survivor from the RMS Lusitania, the ocean liner sunk by a German U-boat during World War I with a massive loss of life, has died at age 95.
Audrey Lawson-Johnston from Melchbourne in Bedfordshire, England, died Tuesday. Lawson-Johnson was three months old when the New York-bound liner sank off the Irish coast on May 7, 1915.
Lawson-Johnston’s family had been aboard the liner when the boat was hit in an attack that killed 1,198 of the 1,959 people aboard, including her sisters.
The sinking by U-20 turned public opinion in many countries against Germany, contributed to the entry of the United States into World War I and became an iconic symbol in Allied recruiting campaigns, according to the BBC.
Earlier this month, a talented, young Princeton University computer science student went online one morning, checked the community weblog site Meta Filter until about 4 a.m., went onto Facebook an hour later and replaced his entire profile with this note, then emailed a copy to friends and acquaintances shortly before 7 a.m.
Afterward, he began to hang himself.
By the time he was found 10 minutes later he’d suffered permanent brain damage. Eventually it was declared he’d be in a permanent vegetative state the remainder of his existence, and on Jan. 5, after his respirator was removed, Bill Zeller, 27, died.
Zeller’s suicide note isn’t a rambling, incoherent jumble of mental instability. It is the well-written prose of a young man who was the victim of terrible sexual abuse from a very young age, abuse that left him permanently scarred and affected everything he did, every single day of his life.
His note is powerful, intense, sad and, ultimately, heartbreaking. It’s the type of message that can leave one questioning how God can allow evil of this nature to exist, a question for which most, if not all of us, have yet to fathom an acceptable answer. It is beyond the scope of our reasoning.