“Remember the Maine. To Hell with Spain”

| February 15, 2013


On this day in 1898, 266 sailors lost their lives in Havana Harbor, Cuba when a huge explosion ripped the armored cruiser USS Maine (ACR-1)apart and sent her to the bottom of the bay. She was stationed there to protect American interests during the Cuban revolution against Spain. Speculation is that it was an accidental fire in the powder magazine that had ripped the ship asunder. But at the time, most Americans thought it was Spanish saboteurs who had done the deed. Regardless, “Remember the Maine. To Hell with Spain” became the rallying call for war against Spain.

The memorial at Arlington National Cemetery above is to the sailors who lost their lives and the base of the mast recovered from the Maine is inscribed with their names and accompanied by an anchor from the wreck.

The Washington Post reports that the Monument to the Maine and her crew in Havana is being restored by the Cuban government after decades of neglect;

The Maine monument was inaugurated in 1925 and bears the names of all 266 sailors. Two statues standing shoulder-to-shoulder at the base represent a maternal America guiding the maiden Cuba into independence.

Words etched into the marble quote an 1898 U.S. congressional resolution recognizing Cuba’s right to be free, and the massive bronze eagle that long capped the monument faced due north in a symbol of Washington’s promise to return home after helping the island break from Spain.

“To me it signifies a legacy of loyalty…friendship between two peoples,” said Julio Dominguez Santos, the monument’s night watchman of 17 years.

Category: Historical

Comments (19)

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  1. Veritas Omnia Vincit says:

    I always preferred the saying, “Remember the trench and F#ck the French”

    But this is a great story and the night watchman’s comments make me hope for normalization with Cuba someday…if we can be pals and trade with the Russkies and Vietnam trading with Cuba seems possible.

  2. MCPO NYC USN (Ret.) says:

    Great article about the USS Maine.

    Many of the wounded were brought to Naval Station Key West and were treated there. The Truman Annex as it called today houses many of the older historical Navy buildings and are cared for by a Trust. Included in the facilities were a large Naval Hospital, Marine Barracks, Housing for officers and enlisted and many other building of the time. You can live there now for a cool miliion or two!

    The only portion of the old Naval Station left is a pier and a sliver of Truman Annes that house barracks, MWR (awesome), the best beach in town, and JIATF South. I can’t tell you much about JIATF South … if I did … well you know … I would have to kill you!

    Much of the history and what happended to the USS Maine can be found in Key West as the USS Maine got underway to Havanna from Key West. Many artifacts from the USS Maine were brought to Key West and remain there today.

    Key West is mandatory “Bucket List” item for any military man, woman, and or family. It is a hidden treasure and slice of Americana bar none! US Flags fly everywhere and anything goes in Key West!

    I have been to Key West many times on OPS and EXS, was married in Key West, and have since returned many more times. It is one of my favorite places because of the military, history, climate, and location … and the Green Parrott.

    On a related note, we Naval Engineers, EOOW’s and Boiler Techicians alike, know that although:

    “Speculation is that it was an accidental fire in the powder magazine that had ripped the ship asunder. But at the time, most Americans thought it was Spanish saboteurs who had done the deed”, the probable cause was an explosion of coal dust. Coal dust is extremely explosive and coal delievery systems onboard ship during that period were complex, and included coal dust recovery ducts and blowers.

    This theory was discussed for years and subsequently documented in a book in 1976 by ADM Rickover (that Bat Sh!T Crazy Genious Father of the Nuke Navy):

    “Technical experts at the time of both investigations disagreed with the findings, believing that spontaneous combustion of coal in the bunker adjacent to the reserve six-inch magazine was the most likely cause of the explosion on board the ship. In 1976, Admiral Hyman G. Rickover published his book, How the Battleship Maine Was Destroyed. The admiral became interested in the disaster and wondered if the application of modern scientific knowledge could determine the cause. He called on two experts on explosions and their effects on ship hulls. Using documentation gathered from the two official inquiries, as well as information on the construction and ammunition of Maine, the experts concluded that the damage caused to the ship was inconsistent with the external explosion of a mine. The most likely cause, they speculated, was spontaneous combustion of coal in the bunker next to the magazine.

    For more: http://www.history.navy.mil/faqs/faq71-1.htm

  3. 2/17 Air Cav says:

    I appreciate the remembrance greatly. Ask most people to fill in the blank, “Remember the ____________” and you’ll be lucky, outside of Texacas, to even get Alamo. “Remember the Maine” is known by too few today. As for the monument here, it, too, could use some help.

  4. Hondo says:

    MCPO: concur that Key West is worth doing – once – if for no other reason than to experience Mallory Square at sundown. But I have to say that otherwise my reaction was, “Meh.” As far as enjoying the Gulf Coast, I’d have to say SW Florida or the panhandle is IMO much nicer.

  5. MCPO NYC USN (Ret.) says:

    @ 3 Air Cav … ain’t that the truth.

    “Remember the ____________”

    “I got it …. ‘Remember the Kardashians'”, said the twenty something idot extraordinairre!

  6. Hondo #4: Since YOU and The MChief wandered off topic…You really MUST do Key West on New Years Eve.

  7. Hondo says:

    Zero: been there once. That’s probably enough unless I manage to get really lucky regarding availability of space-A quarters on NAS Key West the next time I’m in SW Florida.

    Besides, it’s much easier to get reservations at the quarters on Holmstead ARB near Miami. Biscayne Bay NP and the upper keys are IMO nice, too. (smile)

  8. Hondo #7: Eglin is nice. Never stayed on NAS Key West, but we spent some time at the Navigator. Also bought a shirt at the exchange.

  9. Ex-PH2 says:

    I think it goes like this:

    Remember the Alamo.

    Remember the Maine.

    Remember to get the cotton pickin’ chicken at the grocery store.

    I was wondering if the NAS was actually active down there. Key West just seems too ‘touristy’ to me.

  10. Ex-PH2 says:

    I think that when Fidel Castro, who seems to be mellowing a teensy bit, passes on, Raul may be more USA-friendly.

  11. Hondo says:

    ‘Tis indeed still open and active, Ex-PH2. As is Holmstead ARB south of Miami. Holmstead remained open as a USAFR training installation after Hurricane Andrew came through in 1991 vice closing entirely.

    Both are great places to stay in the area if you’re (1) eligible, and (2) can manage to get quarters on-base at either. Holmstead seems to be pretty open for space-A lodging during the week. NAS Key West? You gotta be lucky as hell. I was – once – and probably won’t ever manage that again.

    Guess that’s probably why I never win anything in the lottery. (smile)

  12. MCPO NYC USN (Ret.) says:

    The Fly Navy Building (suites) or Truman Annez (suites) that is where you want to stay.

    NAS Key West full up and running!

  13. MCPO NYC USN (Ret.) says:

    Zero Ponsdorf Says:

    “Hondo #4: Since YOU and The MChief wandered off topic … You really MUST do Key West on New Years Eve.

    MCPO Interpretation:

    “Go have a ghey ole’ time in Key West”!

    I did not mean to go off the tracks, my point was to add some historical context to the conversation. However, recognizing my dickslexia, I do sometimes get lost in what I am doing, who I am, and why I was sent here in the first place!

  14. Ex-PH2 says:

    Thank you, gentlemen!

  15. Eagle Keeper says:

    1. “… a maternal America guiding the maiden Cuba into independence … Cuba’s right to be free …”

    Anyone care to share their thoughts on why we didn’t accord the Philippines (you know, one of the colonies we took over after beating Spain) the same dignity? When they tried to gain their freedom and independence from the United States of Godblessamerica, we kicked hell out of them for their impudence. Why that is?

    2. On June 8, will TAH offer a similar piece remembering the 34 dead and 171 wounded of the USS Liberty? Or does your military disaster have to have an actual monument to rate this kind of rememberance?

  16. Phil says:

    There are bits of the Maine spread out over the US: http://www.roadsideamerica.com/story/10799

    I visited Arlington in September and visited the Maine Memorial. Maintenance was being done on some stonework. Very imposing.

  17. MAJMike says:

    “Splendid little war…”

  18. CC Senor says:

    @17 Yep, even back then the media was slanting the news. Thank you Mister Hearst and yellow journalism.

  19. 2/17 Air Cav says:

    @16. That’s the work that has been needed for decades. Glad to hear they’re cleaning the stone.