Remember the Maine Day is observed annually on February 15 in remembrance of the American battleship, U.S.S. Maine, which unexpectedly sank in Cuba, killing 266 crew members. On February 15, 1898, there was a mysterious explosion followed by the sinking of the ship. This led to political turmoil, a naval blockade, and, ultimately, a declaration of war.
History of Remember the Maine Day
The U.S.S. Maine was one of America’s first battleships. Following much deliberation by the Naval Advisory Board, the construction of two 6000-ton warships was approved — the ‘Maine’ and ‘Texas.’ These were a representation of significant advancements by the U.S. Navy and were considered to be in a class of their own.
In January 1898, the Maine went from Florida to Cuba, for the protection of U.S. interests during the Cuban War of Independence. About three weeks later, on February 15, at 9:40 P.M., an explosion occurred on the ship in Havana Harbor. There was instant wreckage and the boat sank to the bottom of the harbor. Of the 355 crew members on board, 266 were killed in the accident — 260 died on the spot, and six of them succumbed to their injuries later.
The immediate reaction to the devastating incident was to find the cause. While the official cause of the explosion is unknown to this day, there were several widely believed theories. The U.S. Naval Court of Inquiry determined that a mine caused the explosion, and the American press ran with it. America blamed the Spanish for the explosion, although there was no evidence to prove that they did it. This infuriated Americans and slogans such as “To hell with Spain, Remember the Maine” were heard across the country. While this wasn’t the sole cause of the war against the Spanish, it created a distrusting relationship and hostile environment. Eventually, the United States went to war against Spain in April and was victorious. A war-ending treaty was signed in December, and Cuba gained independence, though with a strong U.S. influence still.
Later investigations pointed to the possibility that something within the ship had caused the explosion and sinking of Maine. Though the cause remains inconclusive, we can’t ignore the lives that were lost during the unfortunate incident. February 15 is a day to remember the 266 brave souls who perished in their jobs, protecting their country. It is a day to Remember the Maine.
Remember the Maine Day timeline
Congress authorizes the construction of the Maine.
The ship is commissioned under the command of Captain Arent S. Crowninshield.
The ship goes to Havana, Cuba, from Key West, Florida.
The unfortunate explosion and sinking of Maine occur.
Remember the Maine Day FAQs
Who actually sank the Maine?
Some innumerable theories and investigations have been done to answer these questions. However, the answer remains unknown.
Did the destruction of the Maine cause the Spanish-American War?
The destruction of the Maine was one of the reasons; it wasn’t the only reason for the Spanish-American War.
How long did it take to build the U.S.S. Maine?
Since the U.S.S. Maine was the first-of-its-kind battleship, the time quoted to build it was nine years.
How to Observe Remember the Maine Day
Visit memorial sites to Remember the Maine
Plan a visit to one of the many sites dedicated to the Maine — the Battleship Maine Monument in Bangor, Maine; the U.S.S. Maine National Monument in New York City; the U.S.S. Maine Memorial in Arlington National Cemetery; the Monument to Victims of the Maine in Havana, Cuba, and more. There are also patriotic bar crawls held in New York and Boston on this day.
Watch footage to Remember the Maine
To observe the day from the comfort of your home, you can turn to content about the Maine. There are collections of photos of and about the Maine, and even documentaries about the Spanish-American War feature the Maine.
Read about Remember the Maine
If you want to learn more about it, you can conduct some research about the Maine. Read about its build, the events that occurred, the different investigations that were conducted for it, etc. You could even read a book about the Maine.
5 Investigations That Were Conducted For The Maine
Del Peral and De Salas inquiry
The Del Peral and De Salas inquiry identified combustion of the coal bunker as the likely cause and ruled out mine explosion through various observations.
Sampson Board’s court of inquiry
The Sampson Board’s court of inquiry concluded that a mine caused the explosion, according to witness accounts, although this had many inconsistencies.
Vreeland Board’s court of inquiry
The Vreeland Board’s court of inquiry inspected the shipwreck and concluded that an external explosion had caused the explosion of magazines.
The Rickover investigation interviewed naval historians and examined photos and evidence to conclude "no plausible evidence of penetration from the outside," meaning that the explosion originated inside the ship.
“National Geographic” investigation
The “National Geographic” investigation commissioned an analysis by Advanced Marine Enterprises (A.M.E.), however, the research results were inconclusive.
Why Remember the Maine Day is Important
It keeps memories alive
As we move forward, we must also remember those who have sacrificed their lives to protect us. The brave men who passed away on the Maine may not be with us today but their memories must stay alive with us.
It is a reminder to be grateful
The brave soldiers who risk their lives to serve and protect us every day are nothing short of heroic. This day reminds us to be grateful not only for them but also for their families, who make their own set of sacrifices to enable these officers to serve.
It keeps us grounded
A day such as this keeps us rooted in history and reminds us of the journey that has led to the present. There is a rich history behind the world as we know it today, and the sacrifices that occurred need to be recognized.
Remember the Maine Day dates