Nassef Cassem Balman told his family that the lurid emptiness of the North Atlantic Ocean was the worst part. Hypothermia threatened his body and he heard passengers screaming as the RMS Titanic broke in two and sank, taking more than 1,500 people to their graves on the ocean floor. But he remembered the terrifying dark and quiet.
That was April 15, 1912, but Balman’s grandson Souhail “Sam” Abilmona, 63, remembers that story every day that he and cousin Walid Fayad, 55, arrive to work at Danny’s Pizza & Subs in Spotsylvania County.
The cousins hung a photo of the ship, and one of their grandfather, next to the restaurant’s entrance to remind themselves of Nassef Cassem Balman’s harrowing journey to the United States and the life he lived in Fredericksburg.
“It’s a horrible thing, I was told,” Abilmona said, recounting the story of how their grandfather was one of just over 700 survivors of the Titanic disaster.
Last week was the 105th anniversary of the “unsinkable” ship’s downfall, when the British passenger liner loaded with 2,224 passengers and crew sank after colliding with an iceberg during its maiden voyage from Southampton to New York City.
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