Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Remember the Maine!

That was the rallying cry at the beginning of the Spanish-American war. In 1898 there was civil unrest in Cuba. The native peoples were rioting against Spain, which at that time had claimed Cuba as a colony. To protect American interests, president William McKinley sent the U.S. battleship Maine to show the flag in Havana harbor.  On the evening of February 15th, 1898 a huge explosion blew the Maine in half killing 260 American sailors.

Was it a Bomb? A Mine? an Accident?  To this day no one can say for sure. But the sinking escalated an already deteriorating situation to the point where McKinley declared war in April of 1898. The short but decisive war not only increased America's influence in the region but freed Cuba from its masters and gave a young Teddy Roosevelt to lead his Rough Riders up San Juan hill.

Little Nick and I found this monument sitting quietly in a park in Geneseo, right on main street.  It consists of an actual naval shell recovered from the wreck as well as a stone and bronze obelisk marking the men that served and died during the war. Above the bas-relief of a soldier the inscription reads " Erected to the memory of those American soldiers and sailors who in the war with Spain gave their lives for country and humanity".  If you're ever in the area stop and reflect for a moment on a war that's rarely spoken of these days and set the stage for a young politician to rise to the highest office in the land.

Thanks again to my sidekick Nick for snapping these photo's.

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