Remember The Maine?

If you are of a certain age, the call "Remember the Maine!" will be familiar to you. But where did that call come from? What did it mean? Did you know that within walking distance in Collins View there is a bronze plaque (tablet) made from metal salvaged from the USS Maine? You can touch it.

The USS Maine was destroyed in Havana Harbor on Feb 15th 1898. 268 perished. The following explanation was taken from [Wikipedia]

She exploded and sank on the evening of 15 February 1898, killing 268 sailors, or three-quarters of her crew. In 1898, a U.S. Navy board of inquiry ruled that the ship had been sunk by an external explosion from a mine. However, some U.S. Navy officers disagreed with the board, suggesting that the ship's magazines had been ignited by a spontaneous fire in a coal bunker.

The coal used in the Maine was bituminous, which is known for releasing firedamp, a mixture of gases composed primarily of flammable methane that is prone to spontaneous explosions. An investigation by Admiral Hyman Rickover in 1974 agreed with the coal fire hypothesis, penning a 1976 monograph that argued for this conclusion. The cause of her sinking remains a subject of debate.

Wikipedia lists a half dozen theories in the section "Investigations". Fascinating reading.

The Tablet


USS Maine Tablet by sculptor Charles Keck. Photo J. Miller

Over a thousand of these plaques were made - intended for survivors and families of those lost. Those left over from families were made available Some families have sold theirs, and so on. See References!

The Setting

The photo below was taken from northeast of the granite monument holding the plaque. You can see the plaque on the right.

Maine Memorial Setting. Photo J. Miller

Also, you can see a statue of a soldier in a circle of graves beyond the straight rows. The statue is dark, against a dark tree. If you go there, you'll see several concentric circles of white gravestones.

Location of Spanish-American War Memorial. Apple Maps

We give the general location here. You can figure out how to get there if you want to see this in person. People in Collins View can enter the upper gate off Palatine Hill Road, and walk down hill!

A Statue Standing Guard over his Comrades

In a circle of Spanish-American War graves, stands a bronze statue, guarding over his comrades. The survivors of the 2nd Oregon U.S. Volunteer Infantry erected this monument in 1902 in MEMORY OF THEIR FALLEN COMRADES SERVICE.

Statue from the front. Photo from River View Cemetery

Read about the "2nd Oregon" US Voluntary Infantry in the excellent article given in References.

Statue from the side. Photo from River View Cemetery

This is looking up, roughly from the east. Many a walkers in the cemetery have been startled to glance up hill and see this guy standing with his gun extended forward. From one of the lower roads, you see the silhouette of the soldier, without the base, so he appears to be on the ground!

Then came Thanksgiving, 2023

The Soldier was standing for over 120 years, that is, until Thanksgiving Day, Nov 2023, when it was supposedly pulled down by anti-imperialist "activists" (according to some websites).

Empty Pedestal, Nov 2023. Photo by C. Stowell

This is all that is left of the statue.

UPDATE! March 2024. Statue Returned to its pedestal

This is not a replacement, it is the original statue, with a few dings on the leg(s).

Back in place, Photo Feb 28, 2024. by C. Stowell

The statue was found on the cemetery grounds, in a ravine, and has been restored to the pedestal.

The soldier awaits the rifle replacement. The plastic resin model was damaged by the act of vandalism.

The motive remains unknown. We will update this section of the blog should more information become available.

Wreaths Across America

Every December, graves of veterans are decorated with wreaths. (Just as miniature flags are placed before Memorial Day.)

Wreaths Across America

There is also a ceremony in the cemetery. This year (2023) it will be on Sunday, Dec 16th, at the Soldiers Circle.

In December 2021, wreaths were placed by Young Men’s Service League of Lake Oswego, Daughters of the American Revolution, Gold Star Wives, and the Oregon City Army Junior ROTC. Greg Leo presented the history of Oregon’s role in the Spanish American War. (The author was present at this ceremony.)

This year, for every two wreaths purchased through the link below, three will be placed. Thank you for supporting these veterans! To purchase/sponsor wreaths, visit this [PAGE]


Editor's Note

On my regular walks during the pandemic, I passed through the Spanish-American War section, and eventually came to examine a particular plaque. I thought it was amazing that this bronze is now right here just a mile from where I live. Of course I'd always heard the phrase "Remember the Maine!" on Walter Cronkite growing up in the 1950's and in school. (I was a very poor student of War.) I took a photo of it, did some research. Ever since starting this Blog, I've wanted to share the story. The USS Maine didn't sink in Collins View, but a memorial to it is here.

By the way, the complete phrase was "Remember the Maine! To Hell with Spain!" Please read the history provided in References above.

As for the statue, it's important to note that this monument was erected by the survivors, not the US Government. It's not glorifying war, or imperialism. These anarchists proudly claim responsibility for the its demise:

Anarchist Federation: Soldier Statue Torn Down Thanksgiving Night in Portland, Oregon [anarchist federation website article].

Rose City Counter-Info: Soldier Statue Torn Down Thanksgiving Night [Rose City Counter-Info].

HOWEVER, these activists could have just claimed credit for the act after it was done for other reasons, such as mischief.

Photo credits: C Stowell, J.Miller, River View Cemetery ceremony attendees. Editor: J Miller.

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Here is what we'd say on Nextdoor: Did you know that within walking distance in Collins View there is a bronze plaque (tablet) made from metal salvaged from the USS Maine? You can touch it. Remember the Maine? Did you know there was a Spanish-American War Memorial in River View Cemetery? Now is your chance to learn about these things, and about the upcoming annual Wreaths Across America event.