CHI2000021503 - 15 FEBRUARY 2000 - CHICAGO, ILLINOIS, USA: William Showers, lead guide, walks down a replica of the Titanic's grand staircase at the Museum of Science and industry February 14. The exhibit opens February 18 and will include more than 200 items from the ship. It's the largest gathering of Titanic artifacts ever assembled. rg/raf/ Ray Foli UPI | License Photo
MILWAUKEE, May 13 (UPI) -- The great-granddaughter of a young Armenian immigrant who survived the sinking of the Titanic is to be married in a Titanic exhibit in Milwaukee.
Melissa Vartanian won a contest by sending in David Vartanian's harrowing story, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports. The 22-year-old swam to a lifeboat and hung on to the side, resisting passengers who tried to shake him off, until he was rescued.
More than 1,500 people died when the White Star liner sank on April 15, 1912. In steerage, where David Vartanian was traveling, three out of four passengers died.
"It was a tragedy, an absolute tragedy that happened. The difference for my family is that it was ultimately about hope and freedom," Melissa said. "For my family, it brought life."
David Vartanian's young wife had remained in Turkey and finally joined him in the United States in 1923. Vartanian walked with a cane because of the damage his legs suffered the frigid North Atlantic water.
On Friday, Melissa Vartanian and Vache Mikaelian will be married in the "Titanic: The Artifact Exhibit" at the Milwaukee Public Museum. Entering her family history in the contest sponsored by WTMJ-TV's "Morning Blend" show won Melissa Vartanian an all-expenses-paid ceremony and reception.