Remembering the Maine Far from Havana

A memorial to the battleship Maine at Florida's Key West Cemetery Photo credit: M. Ciavardini

A memorial to the battleship Maine at Florida’s Key West Cemetery
Photo credit: M. Ciavardini

Add the explosion of the battleship Maine in Havana Harbor in 1898 to the list of historical events I don’t know enough about. I would “remember the Maine” if only I could. I know the incident triggered the Spanish-American War. I recall that the reason the boat exploded is perhaps a little murky. Conspiracy theories seem to abound. I just don’t know enough about this boat and its place in global history.

The mast of the Maine in Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia Photo credit: M. Ciavardini

The mast of the Maine in Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia
Photo credit: M. Ciavardini

I keep running into it in unexpected places, though. I come across its mast in Arlington National Cemetery just outside Washington, D.C. In Florida’s Key West Cemetery, where some of the explosion’s victims are buried, I see a memorial to the Maine.

Explanatory notes about the Maine in Arlington National Cemetery Photo credit: M. Ciavardini

Explanatory notes about the Maine in Arlington National Cemetery
Photo credit: M. Ciavardini

Now I need to learn more: How did parts of the destroyed Maine come back? Has there always been a tradition of cleaning up battlegrounds? Have I naively thought that such cleanup is a more modern priority, with intelligence and environmental safety in mind?

A Key West Cemetery bio Photo credit: M. Ciavardini

A Key West Cemetery bio
Photo credit: M. Ciavardini

As I read that 116 years ago this week, a peace protocol between the United States and Spain ends the war, I am reminded of my need to learn more about how the United States becomes involved in the Caribbean—and how it leaves. Cuba is freed of Spain in this war, but Puerto Rico is ‘ceded’ to the United States. How does that come about? The memorials I am seeing aren’t telling me enough.

—Lori Tripoli

The base of the Maine memorial in Key West Cemetery Photo credit: M. Ciavardini

The base of the Maine memorial in Key West Cemetery
Photo credit: M. Ciavardini

At the Maine memorial, Key West Cemetery Photo credit: M. Ciavardini

At the Maine memorial, Key West Cemetery
Photo credit: M. Ciavardini

More on the Maine at the Key West Cemetery Photo credit: M. Ciavardini

More on the Maine at the Key West Cemetery
Photo credit: M. Ciavardini

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