Monumental DC – A series where I’ll be documenting the many memorials in DC that we pass by frequently, but rarely seem to stop and pay notice to. Follow on twitter with #monumentalDC
What: Cuban Friendship Urn
When: Thursday October 6, 2011
Where: East Potomac Park
I happened to find myself on my bike for much of Thursday (don’t let work know!) and took a long trip to the Maryland DOT headquaters near BWI. On my way I rode around East Potomac Park and Georgetown, then onwards Capital Crescent Trail, Northwest Branch Trail and some not-so-fun narrow rural roads. I also stopped for a moment to admire two nautical themed monuments.
Right next to the 14th Street Bridge is a piece with an interesting story – the Cuban Friendship Urn was authorized and installed in 1928 after itwas presented to President Calvin Coolidge by Cuban President Gerardo Machado.
The Urn was initially constructed to honor the lives of the 261 men lost when the battleship USS Maine (ACR-1) mysteriously exploded and sunk in Havana Harbor in February 15 1898, less than 3 years after she was commissioned. The ship cost over $4 million dollars when it was built, and was 328 ft long with a displacement of nearly 6800 tons. It was a big and important ship! The sinking of the USS Maine played a large part in igniting the Spanish-American War.
The memorial once stood atop a column in Havana, but was knocked over in a hurricane in 1926, and later sent to the US as a gift. It first stood outside the Cuban Embassy but dissappeared sometime during the early years of the Castro regime and the Cuban Missle Crisis. The National Park Service reportedly rediscovered the urn in its warehouse in 1992 and moved to its current location however a 1996 article in the Washington City Paper reported that the urn had recently been found by the park service abandoned in Rock Creek Park “lying on its side”.
An inscription on the urn reads:
The memory of the Maine will last forever through the centuries as will the bonds of friendship between the homeland of Cuba and the homeland of the United States of North America.
Sources: Wikipedia, DCmemorials.com