Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Remember The Maine

There is a splendid monument to the USS Maine in the key west cemetery and as just about every visitor who ever was in the city has photographed i figured it was about time I came back and pondered the story of the sinking of the Maine.The cemetery holding the sailors from the Maine, and a few others, was built in Key West where the survivors and the dead were brought after the Maine blew up in Havana Harbor in 1898. At the time the explosion on the Maine 274 sailors lost their lives and 89 survived including the Captain Charles Sigsbee whose cabin was aft out of reach of the explosion. There is a Navy Base in key West off North Roosevelt named Sigsbee.The explosion was blamed on a Spanish mine as Spain was putting down the latest Cuban rebellion with whom the US sympathized, though modern investigators suspect a fire in the coal bunker may have blown up the ammunition in the battleship the night of the 15th of February as the crew slept. In any event the destruction of the ship was used as an excuse, a Gulf of Tonkin excuse or a WMD excuse in modern terms, to enter the war and win the Philippines, Puerto Rico and Guam as trophies of the war for the US.
It was the prompt entry of the US into the war that created grounds for speculation that the US may have blown up the Maine as a reason to go to war with Spain, in the manner some people say President Roosevelt deliberately allowed Japan to attack Pearl Harbor to get the US into World War Two. I think both opinions are pernicious slanders but there again i believe Al Quaeda it was that bombed the Twin Towers. These conspiracy theories are nothing new.As it was Key West played a significant role in the aftermath of the explosion, with the bodies recovered from the wreck buried in the plot at the cemetery where they added the plaque above to the honor of the Mayor of Havana who did his bit apparently.The court of inquiry was also held in Key West and now that the the war has faded into distant history and is all but forgotten- what piece of history isn't? unfortunately- this small piece of fenced land is about all that remains of the USS Maine and it's story.

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