DONT GIVE UP THE SHIP
Sightseeing helicopters whir over the Bass Islands and island-bound ferries sound their whistles as stationary cloud cover hovers above Lake Erie this mild Sunday afternoon. Boaters come and go in Put-in-Bay Harbor, golf carts wind through the streets between South Bass Island Lighthouse and East Point, and Kimberly’s Carousel spins pleasantly next to the Candy Bar on Delaware Street. The weekly antique car parade is set to begin; American flags flutter bravely in a moderate west-southwest wind, and in a few more days the night sky will brighten with spectacular fireworks over The Bay.
Even as island life streams onward relentlessly, it is time to remember the words on Oliver Hazard Perry’s battle flag–“DONT GIVE UP THE SHIP.” Not only to honor the historical significance of Perry’s naval victory in September of 1813 as we celebrate American Independence Day, but to reaffirm our commitment to solve the social, economic, and political issues which remain part of the Great American Experiment, as described by the New-York Daily Tribune in 1860.
In 1790, George Washington wrote, “The establishment of our new Government seemed to be the last great experiment for promoting human happiness.” As recently as April 2022, retiring Supreme Court Justice Stephen G. Breyer said, “We’re in it now, aren’t we? Same experiment . . . Can we make it work?”
Well, it’s up to us, isn’t it?
Here on the Bass Islands, business revenue concerns, adequate funding for community services, sky-rocketing real estate values, and a general desire for improved quality of life provide a solid baseline for citizen participation. Involvement in public meetings held by Put-in-Bay Township, Village of Put-in-Bay, Chamber of Commerce, Great Lakes Islands Alliance, Lake Erie Islands Conservancy, and Put-in-Bay Property Owners Association is a great starting point. However, too often, life’s daily personal and work-related demands stymie active engagement beyond social media rants or informal chats with neighbors. Inadequate information flow also debilitates our ability to promote constructive social change. The recent Put-in-Bay parking ordinance fiasco is a strong case in point. And, unfortunately, we all succumb to the comfort of status quo.
Promoting human happiness means we DONT GIVE UP THE SHIP. It means we look beyond happiness and strive instead to accept the challenging circumstances with the vigor and stamina evinced by previous generations. Island life is good. It can be better if we really want it to be!
Sunshine and blue skies appear as I close. What a nice reminder to celebrate the 4th of July with civic enthusiasm.