National Lighthouse Day was a federally-designated holiday to commemorate the history and importance of America’s lighthouses. Lawmakers put it on the calendar in 1989, to mark 200 years since the United States government put lighthouses under federal control. Congress did not intend for it to be an annual occurrence, but it has continued unofficially nonetheless.
In 1789, Congress passed the Act for the Establishment and support of Lighthouse, Beacons, Buoys, and Public Piers. This created the U.S. Bureau of Lighthouses and ensured that the important structures would have enough funding to keep them operational. The official language of the law stated:
“Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, That all expenses which shall accrue from and after the fifteenth day of August one thousand seven hundred and eighty-nine, in the necessary support, maintenance and repairs of all lighthouses, beacons, buoys and public piers erected, placed, or sunk before the passing of this act, at the entrance of, or within any bay, inlet, harbor, or port of the United States, for rendering the navigation thereof easy and safe, shall be defrayed out of the treasury of the United States.”
Fast forward two centuries: Lawmakers wanted to get in on the lighthouse action again. Senator John Chafee from Rhode Island introduced a resolution in 1988 to designate August 7, 1989 as National Lighthouse Day. Groups have continued to mark the occasion every year with public tours and special presentation explaining the history of lighthouses in America.
National Lighthouse Day has now been adopted by social media users as an excuse to post some pretty entertaining memes! Star Wars and sea monsters have been popular posts on Twitter.
Cameron Grant warned, “Lighthouse can be a dangerous place. Watch out for Sea Monsters!”
A Twitter user with the name Anakin’s Lightsaber shared this photo with a Star Wars machine standing guard outside a lighthouse. The caption reads, “The Empire advises you to steer clear, for your own safety of course.”
Ashley Fox shared this meme that reads, “I could never work at a lighthouse. There is a 100% chance I’d get fired for making the bat signal!!”
Someone with the Twitter handle Mixedbydlprva shared this image of a sea monster next to a lighthouse, in what looks like the twilight zone!
The U.S. Coast Guard also commemorated the unofficial holiday. They posted a photo of the nation’s very first lighthouse in Boston. Located on Little Brewster Island in outer Boston Harbor, it dates back to 1716.
BeckyTheWriter shared the image below that captures the purpose of a lighthouse: a light guiding sailors home in a storm.
There have also been several posts referencing how specific people can serve as a “lighthouse” of sorts to others.