Remembering the Maine

Good morning everyone! 

I hope the thunderstorms moving through the South/Southeast yesterday and last night left you unscathed.  We did okay, I think, except for a lack of sleep on Kayla’s part that does NOT make me envy her teachers today!

The Maine Monument, Key West Cemetery

 Time for reflection is often rare these days, but while we were in Key West, Mark and I had the chance (well, really, I forced him) to go by the Key West Cemetery.  Old cemeteries, cemeteries with lots of history in them, are usually very quiet places good for reflection, and to find such a oasis of calm amid the bustle of the Historic District in the rest of Key West was a true pleasure.

We couldn’t stay long, but we were able to see the one place in the cemetery I wanted to see, which was Key West’s monument to those soldiers who died when the U.S.S. Maine exploded in the harbor of Havana, Cuba on February 15, 1898. 

As a result of the explosion, 266 men died.  The cause of the explosion remains controversial to this day, but the purpose of this entry is NOT to answer a question that is still in dispute after over 100 years, but simply to remember 266 men who died serving their country. 

Key West was the last stop the Maine had made, for refueling and obtaining supplies, before it went on to the Havana harbor.  When the ship exploded, those bodies that could be recovered immediately, and the wounded, were sent back to Key West.  About two dozen of the sailors of the U.S.S. Maine are buried in the small enclosure, and the City, at its own expense, placed the monument to them that stands there today, a sailor holding an oar.  (Eventually, an extensive recovery operation in Havana harbor took place, and many of the other dead sailors are buried at Arlington National Cemetery.) 

When we were at the cemetery, it was a perfect day, with the breeze that comes off the Atlantic Ocean and the breeze from the Gulf taking turns twisting through the trees and over the grass.  It was peaceful.  The U.S.S. Maine area of the cemetery is enclosed with a small metal fence, and there are other markers and persons buried in it, including a monument put up by the survivors of a torpedo boat that fought in the Spanish-American war to their fellow serviceman who died the year after the Maine exploded.  

So, the next time you are somewhere and two gentle winds take a moment to swirl in the grass or trees around you, stop for just a minute to breathe a prayer for the safety of all of those men and women who choose to defend their country, and one of thanks for those who were willing to serve and in doing so, paid for their service with their lives. 

Ground Marker in the Maine section of the Key West Cemetery

Finally, to all of you for today, I can wish you nothing better than that you find, at the end of your life, that the following epitaph, also in place at the Key West cemetery but in a different section, is perfect for you:  God was good to me.

Have a great day everyone!


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