An American National Day not to be missed!
Historical recap: annually celebrated on August 7 in the United States, National Lighthouse Day celebrates the importance of lighthouses in maritime navigation. The US Congress designated National Lighthouse Day on August 7, and it was first celebrated in 1989 marking the 200th anniversary of the signing of the Lighthouse Act.
Back in 1789, the First Congress of the newly-formed USA signed what started the establishment of a “Federal System of Lighthouses, Beacons, Buoys and Public Piers”. Indeed, the USA had to provide safe and navigable waterways in order to expand their maritime trade. After the Lighthouses Act was signed by George Washington, the Government created a network of State-owned aids to navigation.
One goal: getting recognition for the lighthouse legacy
In 1988, President Ronald Reagan signed the Bill that made August 7 National Lighthouse Day. One of the instigators of this project, Congressman William J. Hughes, gave a speech about how important it is to give recognition to American lighthouses. At the end of the 19th century, the USA was the country with the most lighthouses in the world. Therefore, the country still has a large amount of these maritime structures. And, as Mr Hughes said, it is important to preserve this legacy.
Lighthouse maintenance, a financial burden
The maintenance of these structures was too much of a financial burden for federal budgets, especially with the development of the GPS technology. But these structures are historic landmarks that reflect values of safety and heroism. They have been standing tall for centuries, in order to protect the coasts and to let sailors know where there are harbors. Consequently, in 2000, the USA took a new step towards protecting the lighthouse heritage: the National Historic Lighthouse Preservation Act was signed to provide public-private partnerships in order to preserve lighthouses. Private groups or non-profit organizations can take care of lighthouses, restore them, make them maritime museums, etc.
Celebrating National Lighthouse Day
On August 7, many lighthouses in the USA open their gates to visitors. You can meet a lighthouse keeper, climb on top of the lighthouse or purchase nautical merchandise. Some of the institutions that run lighthouses organize family-oriented activities. It is also a perfect occasion for many people to (re)discover these structures, take pictures and share them online. And of course you can post on social media using the hashtag #NationalLighthouseDay. In short, an honorable initiative to celebrate the importance of lighthouses and to raise awareness about their preservation.