This week, the historic aviation beacon that has sat atop Mt. Diablo since 1928 was returned to the summit after undergoing significant repairs.
The following information is from Save Mt. Diablo:
The beacon is a historical symbol for those who lost their lives in Pearl Harbor and is re-lit every year in commemoration of the day by the Sons and Daughters of Pearl Harbor Survivors.
Removed from the summit building on June 22nd, the beacon underwent significant repairs to ensure it will shine over the community for decades.
The beacon was originally installed and illuminated in 1928 to aid in trans-continental aviation. After the 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor, the beacon was shut off. It stayed dark until December 7th 1964, when it was re-lit in a memorial ceremony for those who lost their lives. Since then, the beacon has been re-lit every year on December 7th in a ceremony attended by Pearl Harbor survivors. Over the years, the beacon received few repairs and it was beginning to show. In 2010, when the beacon light refused to turn and survivors watched in the cold wind, a Save Mount Diablo volunteer scaled the building and slowly pushed the beacon around until it turned on its own.
“If the beacon lighting ceremony was going to continue for many more years, the beacon was going to need some pretty significant repairs,” said Ron Brown, Save Mount Diablo’s Executive Director.
With the State Parks’ limited budget and a need to move quickly, Assemblywoman Joan Buchanan wrote special legislation for California State Parks to enter into a partnership with Save Mount Diablo for the beacon’s restoration. To complete the restoration, Save Mount Diablo needed to raise an estimated $100,000. Together, in a precedent setting partnership, Save Mount Diablo, Assemblywoman Joan Buchanan, California State Parks, The Dean and Margaret Lesher Foundation, Contra Costa Times Columnist Joan Morris and her readers, Chevron, Shell and many other small businesses and community members stepped up to raise funds for the restoration.
“The scope and magnitude of the response to the beacon restoration effort has been overwhelming,” said Ron Brown, Save Mount Diablo’s Executive Director. “Only with the help of the community, was the preservation of this historic artifact possible.”
The beacon restoration work began on June 22nd, 2013, when it was lifted off of its perch and taken to Global Village Construction in Concord. Since then, it has undergone a cosmetic and mechanical overhaul from new electrical wiring to a bright new coat of silver paint. Even the beacon’s perch, the roof of the Mount Diablo summit building, was repainted.
The beacon was returned to its post in a private ceremony attended by three of the Pearl Harbor survivors, Micky Ganitch, Chuck Kohler and John Tate; the Mount Diablo Restoration team; and the many partners who secured the future of the beacon for years to come.
The 48th annual beacon lighting ceremony will take place at sunset on Dec. 7th.
As the number of survivors has decreased over the years, the number of people attending the ceremony in honor of these heroes has increased, including many sons and daughters vital to organizing the service.
Video: courtesy of Karen Perry