Since 1996, the following humorous story has been a urban legend circulating around the web. Ironically, the story was part of a Presidential speech ten years earlier!
“It reminds me of a favorite little story of mine about a career naval officer who finally got his four stripes, became a captain, and then was given command of a giant battleship. And one night he was out steaming around the Atlantic when he was called from his quarters to the bridge and told about a signal light in the distance. And the captain told the signalman, “Signal them to bear to starboard.” And back came the signal from ahead asking—or saying, “You bear to starboard.” Well, as I say, the captain was very aware that he was commander of a battleship, the biggest thing afloat, the pride of the fleet; and he said, “Signal that light again to bear to starboard now.” And once again, back came the answer, “Bear to starboard yourself.” Well, the captain decided to give his unknown counterpart a lesson in seagoing humility; so he said, “Signal them again and tell them to bear to starboard. I am a battleship.” And back came the signal, “Bear to starboard yourself. I’m a lighthouse.” -President Ronald Reagan’s “Forward for Freedom” speech at the Conservative Political Action Conference on January 30, 1986
The Great Communicator was using Lighthouse humor to make his point about how the American people are the “final arbiter of political power: a lighthouse to the ship of state, a source of good judgment and common sense signaling a course to starboard. But you who are not nautical-minded know that starboard is to the right, don’t you?” to keep the federal government sailing on the right course!
I wonder what humorous anecdote the Gipper would use for the present course of Lighthouse ownership transfers and Lighthouse Preservation? Would Dutch say “Full steam ahead” with enthusiasm for the current course or the government is “beating a course” upwind?
Related Urban Legend:
The Obstinate Lighthouse