By Shalana Millard
It’s August 7: one of my favorite days of the year. What’s so special about it? It’s National Lighthouse Day; the day the United States has designated annually, to celebrate the history, power and magic of lighthouses.
As an avid lover of lighthouses, I think of the history and stories they hold. I think of the keepers that occupied lighthouses, maintained them and helped ensure they were a beacon of safety for mariners. Each lighthouse has its own unique story to tell.
During my first visit to Hooper Straight lighthouse on the grounds of the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum in St. Michael’s Maryland in 2017, I was drawn to a poster that explained that due to the danger every year from winter ice, women and children were not allowed to live at Hooper Strait; they could visit for two weeks during the summer. I wondered what it may have been like for a married keeper at Hooper Strait, to live without their family for a majority of the year, knowing they would only see them for two weeks.
When I think of the stories lighthouses hold, I think of Anna Weems Ewalt, who was born in Drum Point lighthouse on July 13, 1906. (During my visit to Drum Point on September 22, 2014, they had a tribute to Anna on one of the walls.) I wondered what it was like for her parents to bring a child into the world inside a lighthouse.
As I contemplate the stories lighthouses hold, I also think of the physically demanding job of being a keeper. I think of the oil canister that was on display during my first visit to Absecon lighthouse in Atlantic City, New Jersey on September 20, 2013, and how my mind wondered how a lighthouse keeper would have managed to carry a heavy oil canister up 228 steps in order to maintain the light.
Whether you’re fascinated by the beauty and romance of lighthouses, or the stories of the keepers who lived in and maintained them, find a reason to celebrate lighthouses not just on today, National Lighthouse Day, but every day!
Leave a comment in this post to let me know how you’ll be celebrating lighthouses. Are you planning to visit one as lighthouses begin to re-open safely, with protocols in place, during the global pandemic?