A beacon in the night

Friday, June 29, 2007

I have heard all my life people use the phrase that "it was like a beacon in the night". Not knowing where that phrase originated, I wanted to know the official meaning of the word 'beacon'. So here it is: "Beacon - a lighthouse, signal buoy, etc., on a shore or at a dangerous area at sea to warn and guide vessels."

Well, there are no seas near Lewisburg, so the chances are good that we don't have any lighthouses 'round these parts' either. But that is where you would be wrong.

The lights of five historic lighthouses will beam inside the Lewisburg Post Office with the 41-cent Pacific Lighthouses commemorative stamps. The stamps depict Diamond Head Light (Hawaii), Five Finger Islands Light (Alaska), Grays Harbor Light (Washington), Umpqua River Light (Oregon) and St. George Reef Light (California).

Each stamp features an original acrylic painting by Howard Koslow, based on recent photographs of the lighthouses. Koslow also painted the five Southeastern Lighthouses stamps issued in 2003, as well as the five stamps in the 1990 Lighthouses booklet and the five Great Lakes Lighthouses stamps issued in 1995.

Diamond Head Light

Standing at the base of an extinct volcano on the Hawaiian island of Oahu, Diamond Head Light was established in 1899. The original tower was replaced by a new lighthouse in 1917. Currently home to the 14th Coast Guard District Commander, Diamond Head Lighthouse is the last occupied light station in Hawaii. The light from its third-order Fresnel lens warns ships away from the coral reefs south of the island of Oahu and leads them safely into the harbor of nearby Honolulu. The lighthouse was automated in 1924, and in 1980 it was placed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Coast Guard Radio Operator 3rd Class George Larson was stationed here on the morning of Dec. 7, 1941. He woke in the old keeper's cottage to find the building shaking and the windows rattling.

"At first I thought we were having an earthquake," said Larsen, 89, of Novato, Calif., "but then I heard the booms that seemed to go on and on and on. Half dressed, I ran outside to see what was going on and watched as three Japanese torpedo bombers flew directly over the edge of the crater -- right over the lighthouse tower -- and headed straight for Pearl Harbor. We could see the smoke from eight miles away."

Larsen manned his radio and warned ships to maintain radio silence. Then he patrolled the lighthouse grounds "with a 45 automatic and two clips of ammo" until the next morning.

You will see a special treat when you visit the Lewisburg Post Office to buy your Pacific Lighthouse stamps. On display in the main office are photos of lighthouses from Florida to Canada. These great shots are from our own Carol Smiley and her husband, John. Photography is their hobby and they plan many of their vacations on where they can take pictures. The photos they have made are outstanding! Come by and see them and visit their web site, www.smileysphotography.com for more great pictures.

Being your "beacon in the night" for all of your postal needs is just another example of how the Lewisburg Post Office is working for you.

Robert Wakefield is the Acting Postmaster for the Lewisburg Post Office. He can be reached at 359-3232.