Jim Underwood – President CCLF

Events That Alter and Illuminate Our Lives

Born in 1925, my father had survived the Great Depression, a life threatening bout with tetanus, and the loss of his father before dropping out of high school at the age of 16 to enlist in the U.S. Coast Guard and serve in World War II. Upon returning home, he married my mother and became a city police officer in San Bernardino, CA. Each day when he would come home from work, I would ask him, “So, how was your day?” His answer was always the same, “It was a day like all days, filled with the events that alter and illuminate our lives.”

The events that have altered and illuminated our community since the first lighthouse shone its beacon seaward of Cape Canaveral are remarkable and the list is long. Reflecting on darker times, our light has weathered slavery, segregation, countless wars, poverty, disease, terrorism, and now COVID-19. The list is long. Yet, Americans have kept the light shining, and despite such adversity, magnificent and incredible advances in science, medicine and technology have followed. As a nation, we’ve launched man into space, toured Earth’s moon and put robotic rovers on Mars. Our doctors developed vaccines to rid the world of diseases such as smallpox and polio and prevent the spread of count-less others. And let’s not forget countless inventions that have improved our daily lives: electricity, radio, cars, airplanes, television, the microwave, the computer, smart phones… Zoom!

Today, our lighthouse and museum must remain closed to the public for COVID-19 precautions – no tours, no visitors, no gift shop sales, no special events – until further notice. Despite this impact on mission performance and budget, we are hard at work behind the scenes, physically and virtually completing many projects. Like many others, Cape Canaveral Lighthouse Foundation leaders, committee members, volunteers and sponsors are staying connected by holding virtual meetings to conduct business and get work done. Some examples include:

(1) every ten years, our lighthouse undergoes a preservation treatment of prepping, priming and painting the entire 151-ft tall, black & white banded exterior. This work began in early April and should be completed by mid-June.

(2) we have identified and procured exterior lights for the Keeper’s Cottage Museum which had to be approved by the US Air Force Environment Division as environmentally safe (i.e., no impact on sea turtle nesting).

(3) we are doing a complete makeover of our website, updating it with current interactive capabilities, public and member-only sections, virtual tours and on-line gift shop sales; and saving the best news for last.

(4) earlier this month, we received tentative approval from the US Coast Guard for the loan of a 4th Order Fresnel Lens to be exhibited in our new museum. This is a long process, but we hope to have it on display by the end of the year!

Indeed, the Cape Canaveral Lighthouse has witnessed much in its 152 years of service – always standing tall and remaining bright as no matter what may transpire, it remains ”a day like all days…”

Keep safe, keep shinning!


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