Give the community a reason to celebrate their lighthouse heritage and the results can prove inspirational. Such was the case on June 28, 2003 when the general public and lighthouse enthusiasts gathered at the foot of Old Cape Henry Lighthouse for the unveiling ceremony of the Southeastern Lighthouse Commemorative Stamps featuring the venerable Old Cape Henry Light.
The Virginia Beach Post Office and the Association for the Preservation of Virginia Antiquities presented the event that took place on the historic grounds of Fort Story. Towering in regal fashion high atop a sand dune, Old Cape Henry Lighthouse stood a silent watch over the proceedings that were designed to honor the service and heritage of the 211 year-old sentinel. Built in 1791, the lighthouse has the distinction of being the first light ever constructed under the authorization provided Congress in 1789 for the “establishment and support of light houses, beacons, buoys and public piers.” Though cracks in the tower’s exterior sandstone masonry would cast doubts over the stability of the lighthouse in 1872, and eventually force it to be decommissioned in 1881, the rugged sentinel has defied fate and continues to honor the rich heritage of the Chesapeake Bay.
The day-long ceremony featured the unveiling of the Southeastern stamps by U.S. Postal Service and local dignitaries, as well as various period re-enactors, military static displays and music. In addition, the general public was invited to climb both the old and new Cape Henry lights for breathtaking views of the bay and historic fort. The lighthouse community was on hand with table displays helping to inform visitors of mid-Atlantic and Southeastern lighthouse preservation and education efforts. Groups participating included the Chesapeake Chapter of the U.S. Lighthouse Society, Delaware River & Bay Lighthouse Foundation, New Jersey Lighthouse Society and the Outer Banks Lighthouse Society.
The Southeastern Lighthouses Commemorative Stamps unveiling ceremony not only paid tribute to the Southeastern lighthouse heritage, but also enabled the public to celebrate and enjoy all the reasons why we love, cherish and choose to preserve America’s beloved sentinels for future generations.
This story appeared in the
August 2003 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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