USS Maine Memorial. By the end of the 19th century, the Spanish presence in North America had been reduced to Cuba and a few Caribbean islands. The USS Maine was sent to Cuba to protect US residents following rioting in Havana against Spain. While anchored in Havana Harbor, an explosion sank the ship killing 260 sailors. War was declared on Spain after it was determined the disaster was caused by a submarine mine. In the battles that followed, the US would sustain only 125 combat deaths but 2,000 more would result from tropical disease mostly Yellow Fever. The fighting produced numerous military victories, major territorial acquisitions and many American heros some were awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor. War dead were repatriated back to the United States for re interment for the first time from foreign soil. Except for those trapped in the hull of the Maine, the dead sailors were buried in Colon Cemetery, Havana. The following year, the war over, the remains were exhumed and re buried together on Hall's Knoll in Arlington National Cemetery. The Maine itself remained submerged in Havana harbor for another ten years when it was finally raised and the remaining sailors recovered. The mast and the anchor were salvaged and the wreck was towed out to sea to be scuttled. The remains were interred at Arlington beside the others with great fanfare. Services were held at the War and Navy Department Building in Washington culminating in a huge procession to the cemetery. On the 17th anniversary of the sinking of the Maine, a memorial constructed adjacent to the graves of the sailors who had served on the vessel was dedicated. The most poignant feature of the project was the recovered mast which was mounted on a simulated battleship gun turret. The names of all the casualties from the explosion are inscribed on the base. Some historic trivia...The remains of both Ignace Paderewski, Polish pianist and Manuel L. Quezon the deposed president of the Philippines were kept in the simulated gun turret base of the Maine Memorial. President Quezon's remains were repatriated to the Islands aboard the USS Princeton after the conclusion of the Pacific war. He was first buried in North Cemetery, Manila but eventually exhumed and reinterred in Quezon City in an elaborate mausoleum. The space under the mast was originally intended to be an extension to the memorial perhaps as a repository for Spanish war artifacts. After Poland was finally free and both the Nazis and then the Russians had departed, Paderewski was repatriated back to Warsaw. In 1969, then Archbishop of Krakow, Karol Wojyla visited Arlington and viewed the casket of Paderewski. (bio by: Donald Greyfield)
Arlington National Cemetery
Plot: Section 24 grid M/N 23/24.
Maintained by: Find A Grave
Record added: May 16, 2001
Find A Grave Memorial# 22173
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