A collection of blogs and musings from the people that work at the St. Augustine Lighthouse & Museum - Florida's Finest Lightstation.

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Lighthouses a Symbol of Democracy?

Posted by: Kathy Fleming in Speaking Directly

All we lighthouse people know that lighthouses and aids to navigation, major ones, minor ones, solar powered ones and lights with Fresnel lenses are neccessary to the smooth operation of our economy and saftey. If we read about history of any major searfaring nation or culture, we find an account of the new and growing government setting up lighthouses and aids to navigation. They did so very early on. They continue to do so. Ensuring the safety of people coming into port is critically important.

Is this a reason to save lighthouses? I just returned from a successful trip to Washington DC. I was sitting over a Sam Adams or two (what else?) having a conversation with a very smart fellow that I'd just met about well politics and the world. He asked what I did. I told him. He said to me,

"That is not what you need to say up here. You must really show why it is important to save and preserve lighthouses. Don't say maritime history is important to our culture. Say, "Lighthouses are our symbol of democracy!"

Yes! I like this. Lighthouses literally protected the huddled masses seeking our shores. and They are symbolic of freedom and the chance to make it here in the land of opportunity. They are a symbol of our desire as individuals to be both safe and free. This is what they are really about.

I think he has a very good point. Lighthouses are critical to us as a nation for very practical reason, but they are much more than the sum of their parts. They are also symbols of our hope in the darkest hours and of our desire to be free, to reach out and settle new worlds and make safe the way for others who follow.

So my question is do you think he was right as well? I will probably never see this fellow again, but I really do think he was right. He made me think about my profession in a new way? What do you think? Why is this true? Or is it full of hooey?


Comments (3)

I too believe the man was right. I have been "attached" to lighthouses for many years, and have a collection of mini-lighthouses from all over the U.S., Europe, and the Caribbean. They are a symbol of democracy, but also of safety and security.

So, which ones do you like best? I am very fond of several others (in addition to St. Augustine) Ponce Inlet, Jupiter, Ockracoke, Cape Lookout, (both in NC) Split Rock (MN) because I like Lee Radzak so much, and and Amelia Island (which has recently been restored) to name a few.

I know that there are some in Texas. I'd be very interested to hear how they are faring preservation wise and if anyone is working to save them? I don't know as much about Texas lights. Got any more info?

If you are ever in Florida, stop in and say hello to us. I hope you'll come by.


I just love OLDBALDY lighthouse and I'm just a kid and I'm doing a project on it and my hole class is to but were not all doing the same thing.

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