Regardless of any of our political affiliations, one of the dumbest and most disgraceful things ever in U.S. history, in my humble opinion, was the recent government shutdown of memorials and historic sites. The insult to the legacy left by those who came before us was even greater at many of these sites where federal employees are rarely seen and are run by state employees or, in many cases, by nonprofits and volunteers. These sites should never have been closed.
Some of the lighthouses, to name a few, that were closed to the public in the federal shutdown were: St. Marks Lighthouse, FL; Tortugas Harbor/Garden Key Lighthouse, FL; Bodie Island Lighthouse, NC; Cape Hatteras Lighthouse, NC; Cape Lookout Lighthouse, NC; Highland/Cape Cod Lighthouse, MA; Sandy Hook Lighthouse, NJ; Alcatraz Lighthouse, CA; Yaquina Head Lighthouse, OR; Old Point Loma, CA; Fire Island, NY; Point Iroquois, MI; Assateague Lighthouse, VA, Kilauea Point Lighthouse, HI, Nauset Lighthouse, MA, and Finns Point Rear Range Lighthouse, NJ.
At some lighthouses, where volunteers also manage gift shops, the loss of income from souvenir sales will be devastating to their budgets, which in most circumstances are used toward maintenance and restoration projects. For the life of me, I will never be able to understand why lighthouses that are managed by volunteers, or the staff of a nonprofit group, were forced to close. It just does not make any sense. It was also devastating to the many people who had planned vacations, in some cases for years, to visit a particular site. And to make matters worse, we might go through all of this again.
At Assateague Lighthouse where a $1.5 million dollar restoration project was just completed, the rededication and grand reopening ceremony scheduled for October 5 was cancelled and, as of press time, there are no plans being made to ever reschedule the ceremony. Huh? What sense does that make?
With our elected officials seemingly unwilling to sit down and work together on many issues, will this affect our efforts to get Congress and the President to finally make National Lighthouse Day official on August 7, 2014 on the 225th anniversary of the federalization of our nation’s lighthouses? We tried this year, but could only get the Senate to agree and amazingly they did it by unanimous vote. So, apparently lighthouse brought the Senators together. But, this was not the case in the House of Representatives. However, perhaps, just perhaps, the good of lighthouses, could bring them all together and be the calming effect that leads to things really getting done in Washington. We can only hope.
All of this proves once again that lighthouse organizations and individual lighthouses cannot be an island to themselves, but they must band together for the good of the whole. The lighthouse community can make a difference by swamping our elected officials in Washington D.C. with letters and e-mails that ask them to officially make every August 7 as National Lighthouse Day.
Perhaps the lighthouse community can be the calming effect in Washington that will get our elected officials to work together for the good of the whole. After all, which have no political party affiliation, were built for the good of all - to save lives and improve commerce. And, now, while saving and promoting lighthouses we can all use lighthouses as an influence on the people in Washington for the good of the whole. But it will take teamwork and the involvement of every lighthouse organization. Let’s make a difference.
Best wishes to all for a Joyous Christmas and a new beginning for 2014.
P.O. Box 250
East Machias, ME 04630
This story appeared in the
Nov/Dec 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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