wabishtar (wabishtar) wrote in no_more_dead,

Remember The Maine

On this date, February 15th, in the year 1898, the U.S.S. Maine suffered an unexplained explosion and sank off the coast of Cuba. 266 men were lost as The Maine went down. The U.S. blamed Spain, though there was no real evidence that Spain had anything to do with it, they still claimed it was a Spanish mine. 2 months later, The Spanish-American War had begun. "Remember The Maine" was the rallying cry for the war, despite the fact that there was no link between the sinking of The Maine and the Spanish. The powerful interests in America used those sailor's deaths as justification for a war they had been planning for some time. In actuality, The Maine probably never hit a mine, and the most likely cause of it's sinking was simply a fire in the coal bunker. Nevertheless, a report was issued saying that The Maine was sunk by a mine, and the mine was almost certainly Spanish. In essence, the government took a tragedy, wrote up a false report, and then used the tragedy to justify a war. Sound familiar?

This makes the phrase "Remember The Maine" very bitter to me. For one, it was used to falsely justify a war, but for two, no one remembers this story anymore. I compare Iraq to the Spanish-American War, and no one I talk to understands. This falsely justified war, this false intelligence, this fake link from a national tragedy to justify a war? This has all happened before. “Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it." That quote from George Santayana has a particular resonance in a democracy. If we intend to live in a government where we elect our own leaders, then we must be educated enough to pick our leaders wisely. Learn your country's history, learn where you've been so you don't end up going there again. The only way the deaths of the crew of the U.S.S. Maine will mean anything is if we remember them, and never make the same mistakes again. A century from now, I don't want someone to be writing about how no one remembers 9/11 or the war in Iraq, and if people did, we wouldn't be stuck in this endless war on Mars right now. Remember the people of the past. They have a lot to teach us. Tell your friends. On this day, PLEASE, Remember The Maine.
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