“I should welcome almost any war, for I think this country needs one.” (Teddy Roosevelt, 1897)
February 15, 1898 was a muggy Tuesday night in Havana Harbor. Some 350 crew and officers settled in on board the USS Maine.
“At 9:40 p.m., the ship’s forward end abruptly lifted itself from the water,” writes author Tom Miller. “Along the pier, passersby could hear a rumbling explosion. Within seconds, another eruption—this one deafening and massive—splintered the bow, sending anything that wasn’t battened down, and most that was, flying more than 200 feet into the air.”
By the time the sleeping giant was jarred into alertness by the Maine explosion, Cuban and Filipino rebels were already fighting Spain for independence in their respective lands. The Maine was in Havana Harbor in 1898 on a purportedly friendly mission. “Yet,” writes Miller, “the visit was neither spontaneous nor altruistic; the United States had been eyeing Cuba for almost a century.”
(Occupy this Book: Mickey Z. on Activism can be ordered here.)