Hero of the Maine
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Night, February 15, 1898, the American battleship USS Maine lay at anchor in the harbor of Havana. Although tensions were running high between the US government and Spain, the colonial power occupying Cuba, the night was calm. Suddenly, at 9:40 PM, a huge explosion devastated the forward section of the Maine, an external explosion setting off the powder in the magazines of the Maine. Into this vision of hell on Earth strode the Catholic Chaplain of the Maine, John P. Chidwick.
Born in New York City on October 23, 1863, John Chidwick graduated from Manhattan College with a BA (1883) and an MA (1885). Ordained at St. Joseph’s Seminary in Dunwoodie, New York in 1887, he spent several years serving as a parish priest before being commissioned in 1895 as the third Catholic Chaplain in the history of the United States Navy. He was eventually assigned to the Maine. He rapidly became popular with the members of the crew, no matter their religion. Friendly and outgoing, he did whatever he could to help the crew and was always available to listen to their problems.
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After his death a monument to the Maine was erected in New York City in Columbus Circle.
The monument bears this inscription:
IN MEMORY OF
RT. REV. MSGR. JOHN P. CHIDWICK
CHAPLAIN IN CHIEF
UNITED SPANISH WAR VETERANS
CHAPLAIN, UNITED STATES NAVY,
IN SERVICE ON THE
AT THE TIME OF HER DESTRUCTION.
THE UNITED SPANISH WAR VETERANS
SEPTEMBER 15, 1935
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Chidwick, John P. [MC1883 RIP]
[JR: Wow, I didn't know that! Learn something every day.]
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