As I recently watched the National Memorial Day Concert on PBS-TV I was choked up and often had tears in my eyes. As well as being a great tribute to patriotism in America it was also, by far, the most moving tribute I have witnessed in many years to America’s military people and their families.
Unfortunately, the so-called major television networks did not broadcast the National Memorial Day Concert, instead, for the most part choosing to air their wide array of “reality” TV. As I watched the National Memorial Day Concert, I wondered how many other people were watching it while also feeling saddened about the people who missed this spectacular tribute to America’s military.
On Memorial Day, on one of the 24-hour cable news networks, I was able to view live, as it happened, the ceremony of the laying of the wreath at Arlington National Cemetery. Yet none of the so-called major networks, bothered to break into their daytime programs so that their viewers could witness this annual Memorial Day event. Again, I had to wonder how many people witnessed the ceremony and how many others missed it, or for that matter, how many are callous to it. Plus, none of the major stations gave any type of live coverage to any of the local Memorial Day events that so many wonderful Americans participated in.
Although I believe that Memorial Day, the Fourth of July and Veterans Day are this nation’s most important holidays, this leads me again to wonder why most of our political leaders as well as bureaucrats have not stepped forward to help lead an effort to honor the men and women who served in the United States Lighthouse Service. Although not considered by most as a military organization, for the most part in did operate under military style rules and regulations and was for many years of its existence under military leadership.
To refresh your memory, the United States Lighthouse Service was one of the oldest departments of the United States government. At one time it had more employees decentralized outside of Washington, DC than any other branch of the government. Its employees, from the lighthouse keepers, to the captains of lightships and tenders, to its engineers and workmen, through an amazing system of aids to navigation that provided for the safe transport of lives and commerce, which help build our nation to the great country that it is today. Many of the employees of the Lighthouse Service lost their lives in the line of duty and others often risked their lives to save those in distress. Some, such as Stephen Pleasonton, who saved the Declaration of Independence, were famous for their other deeds.
National Lighthouse Day is barely recognized by any politician or bureaucrat, it does not appear on most, if any, calendars, and there are no greeting cards for it. There has never been a postage stamp issued honoring the U.S. Lighthouse Service or any of the people associated with it and there is no national memorial to the United States Lighthouse Service.
Whether you believe it is official or not, on November 5, 1988, President Ronald Regan signed Public Law 100-622 declaring August 7, as National Lighthouse Day. Now, nearly 20 years later, it is time for all us to start a new effort to honor the United States Lighthouse Service and the men and women who served by the people and for the people in this historic part of our nation’s history. Let’s make August 7, National Lighthouse Day, a memorable day to honor those, who, although they are long gone, did so much for so many. Only you can make a difference.
This story appeared in the
July 2006 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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