Digest>Archives> July 2005

Wickie's Wisdom

It’s Time to Honor the Lighthouse Service

By Timothy Harrison


This past Memorial Day, I watched on television many of the ceremonies held to honor our fallen military heroes. Probably every town in America had a parade or some type of event at the local cemetery. All of these ceremonies mentioned the major units of the military of this country – Army, Navy, Marine Corp, Air Force, and Coast Guard. Every Veterans Day, similar ceremonies are also held around the nation. However, organizations such as the U.S. Revenue Cutter Service, the U.S. Life Saving Service, the U.S. Steamboat Inspection Service, and the U.S. Lighthouse Service are never mentioned. Probably because they no longer exist, having been merged into other military branches, or simply dissolved by Congress and nearly forgotten in the pages of time. These organizations, and the people who served in them, were vital parts of the development of our nation and should not be forgotten.

And on July 4th, as our nation celebrates its Independence Day, most media groups and community events give high praises, as they should, to our nation's founding fathers. Yet, none of them make mention of Stephen Pleasonton, the man who was in charge of our nation's lighthouse service for 32 years. At the risk of his own life, he saved, among other valuable documents, the Bill of Rights, the U.S. Constitution, as well as the original Declaration of Independence from being burned by the British in the War of 1812. In fact, I bet very few people even know who Pleasonton was or what he did.

In our own small way, Lighthouse Digest, with the help of the American Lighthouse Foundation and other non-profit lighthouse groups around the nation, is working hard to keep those memories alive. For the most part, we all go unnoticed by the general public.

In 1938, Secretary Daniel Roper, in an address to a meeting of the superintendents of the Lighthouse Service, said, “The Lighthouse Service furnishes the torch, which, like democracy, stimulates hope and prompts faith and confidence – It is natural that this challenging service should attract to it men and women of courage, self-reliance, service attitudes, and high ideals.” The same holds true for today's modern lighthouse preservation community. It's now our turn to carry the torch to keep the light burning to honor those men and women of yesteryears.

One small but important thing that we can do to keep alive the memories and gain national attention for our cause would be for all of us to request a series of postage stamps that would honor the memory of the Lighthouse Service and the people who served in it. This is something that I originally called for many years ago. In fact, at one time, we even sent a box full of signed petition forms to the Citizens Stamp Advisory Committee. But the request was ignored.

So again, I propose that, at this time, we all send individual letters requesting a series of postage stamps honoring the United States Lighthouse Service. We need to request one stamp with the emblem of the U.S. Lighthouse Service, and various stamps featuring the image of various men and women who served in the Lighthouse Service such as Stephen Pleasonton, George Putnam, Harold King, Ida Lewis, Abbie Burgess, Joshua Strout, Albert Gallatin, William Shubrick, and Julia Williams, to name a few, who helped make our nation the great country that it is.

We can accomplish this, but only through your help. It is time to make things right.

Send your letters to:

Citizens Stamp Advisory Committee

Stamp Development

1735 North Lynn St., Room 5013

Arlington, VA 22209-6432

This story appeared in the July 2005 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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