For many years while giving presentations to students and civic groups, I have been saying that one can learn more about early American history by studying and learning about lighthouses than from any other single source. Recently, after reading a number of recent news stories about test results from high school students about to enter college as well as college students about to leave college, I am convinced more than ever of the importance of our efforts here at Lighthouse Digest to preserve and report the stories associated with our historic lighthouses.
In my opinion, most of the results from these questionnaires and tests, since they were multiple choice, should have been fairly easy. Some of the results of a variety of some of the different tests are:
54% could not identify the century in which the first American colony was established in Jamestown
75% had no idea what the Monroe Doctrine was.
49% had no idea who the leader of Germany was in World War II
55% did not know that the Battle of Yorktown ended the Revolutionary War.
55% did not know the name of the document that contains these words,
“We hold these truths to be self evident, that all men are created equal.”
If we were to give these same students a questionnaire on lighthouse history, even one with multiple choice answers, I’m positive the results would be even more disastrous than the results shown above.
Nearly every week, through our tireless research, we continue to rediscover parts of lighthouse history; from discovering old photographs of lighthouse keepers and lighthouse family members, to old documents, vintage newspaper stories, and other historical information. Sometimes we publish this information immediately, other times it may be held for a lengthy period of time while we try to piece together enough information to make a story complete. Whatever the case, we are constantly locating and saving yesterday’s nearly forgotten and lost lighthouse history while continuing to report on modern lighthouse events, which will become tomorrow’s history for the next generation.
I can assure you that this is all of a labor of love and is not done for monetary purposes, since the cost of research is much greater than the income from publishing.
If you believe as we do, that we are doing the right thing, then we need your help. This can be done in a number of ways that could include ordering a gift subscription for another person, ordering a gift subscription for your favorite library or history teacher, or making a donation to our research fund, or to our light keepers reading fund that provides Lighthouse Digest to schools and libraries.
Lighthouses are among the oldest standing structures in America and their
history must be saved and their stories must be told. In order to understand who we are as a people, we must first understand where we came from and how we arrived at this point as a nation.
Yes, you can make a difference in helping us to save lighthouse history while teaching others about it.
This story appeared in the
April 2008 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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