This year, for the first time since 1989, lighthouse groups and lighthouse aficionados were able to celebrate National Lighthouse Day with some official recognition after the United States Senate passed a unanimous resolution declaring August 7, 2013 as National Lighthouse and Lighthouse Preservation Day.
Although lighthouse groups had been celebrating August 7 of every year as National Lighthouse Day, the only time that it was actually an official law was on August 7, 1989 during the 200th Anniversary of the federalization of our nation’s lighthouse. Ever since then, the celebrations held each year were unofficial. The 1989 designation that was passed by the 100th Congress as a joint resolution that became Public Law 100-622 designated the August 7th date for the year 1989 only.
This year’s 2013 Senate Resolution put some government recognition into it, but it is still not law. However, this is a big step forward toward creating a public law for the creation of a National Lighthouse and Lighthouse Preservation Day for every year thereafter that would officially begin on August 7, 2014, the 225th Anniversary of the federalization of America’s lighthouses, which is something that Timothy Harrison, editor and publisher of Lighthouse Digest, has been advocating and campaigning for during the past twenty years in stories, editorials, and press releases. Harrison worked closely with Peter Benoit of Senator King’s office to make the 2013 Senate Resolution a reality.
However, this time, the members of American Lighthouse Council (not to be confused with the American Lighthouse Foundation) actually came up with a proposed written text for the resolution and law, some of which came from Harrison’s original proposal to Congressional leaders.
“As a nation, we should recognize lighthouses for the prominent part they have played in the growth and expansion of our country,” said Donald J. Terras, the president of the American Lighthouse Council (ALC.) Terras is also director of the Grosse Point Lighthouse in Evanston, Illinois.
In a joint press release, the two Maine Senators stated, “It is important for us not only to recognize the tremendous role that they [lighthouses] play in our nation’s maritime commerce, but to also preserve the legacy and history that they embody.”
Mike Vogel, who heads up the Buffalo (NY) Lighthouse Association and is vice-president of the ALC said, “The resolution also seeks to honor the decades of hard work that volunteers and organizations have put into preserving these iconic reminders of America’s rich maritime traditions.”
Harrison concurred by saying, “Lighthouses are among the oldest standing historic structures in the United States and this is an important step in honoring the significant role that lighthouses and the people who served at them had in the development of our nation.”
He continued by saying, “I firmly believe that a person can learn more about early American history by studying lighthouses than any other single source, which is one of the reasons that I cofounded Lighthouse Digest some twenty-one years ago. “
Harrison, who worked with Terras, Vogel, and former Great Lakes Lighthouse Keepers Association president Richard Moehl, are now working on the next step to update Senate Resolution 204 and turn it into a Public Law that can be signed by the president to make August 7, 2014, and every August 7th thereafter, as National Lighthouse and Lighthouse Preservation Day. But, as Harrison says, we need the help of the people to write to their members of Congress in Washington, D.C. to help make this a reality.
Harrison said it would also be great if the U.S. Postal Service would issue a new set of postage stamps that could be released for the 225th Anniversary of our nation’s lighthouses in 2014 to honor the U.S. Lighthouse Service and some of the men and women who served. As well as a postage stamp with the emblem or logo of the U.S. Lighthouse Service and the flag pennant of the U.S. Lighthouse Service, Harrison suggested names such as Stephen Pleasonton who ran our nation’s lighthouses for 32 years and is the same man who saved the Declaration of Independence; George Putnam the first Commissioner of Lighthouses; Harold King, the second and last Commissioner of Lighthouses; Robert Thayer Sterling, the last civilian keeper at Portland Head Lighthouse, who also wrote a book about lighthouses and their keepers; and Ida Lewis the lighthouse heroine of Lime Rock Lighthouse.
Harrison said that it would be logical to release these new lighthouse postage stamps on August 7, 2014 for the 225th Anniversary, because the first set of lighthouse postage stamps was released on August 7, 1989 for the 200th Anniversary of our nation’s lighthouses. He continued by saying, “Lighthouse groups need to band together to make August 7, 2014 and beyond as National Lighthouse Day and Lighthouse Preservation Day and to also convince the Citizens Stamp Advisory Committee of the U.S. Postal Service to issue a new set of lighthouse related postage stamps for this important date in U.S. History.” Harrison ended by saying, “It’s a two-pronged request that can only become a reality with a massive letter writing and email campaign.”
The full text of Senate Resolution 204 can be found on the Lighthouse Digest website at www.LighthouseDigest.com.
This story appeared in the
Sep/Oct 2013 edition of Lighthouse Digest Magazine. The print edition contains more stories than our internet edition, and each story generally contains more photographs - often many more - in the print edition. For subscription information about the print edition, click here.
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