Wednesday, July 4, 2007

and the Rockets Red Glare

Growing up in Michigan, the fireworks I experienced were the big, fancy kind. Most years we headed to Detroit to see the fireworks along the river, listening to the Detroit Symphony play along. It was art. It was beautiful. We'd go early to get a good spot: spreading out a blanket in the park, picnicking and people watching. We would also enjoy fireworks over the lake in our own small town. Nearly every town put on their own display.

Personal fireworks were not legal. Sure, we had sparklers and those little things that snake along the ground, but not fireworks.

The last 2 states I have lived in allow much more in the way of personal fireworks. It's something I'm not used to.

After the May Queen was born, I had lots of reasons to hate the fireworks going off all around me. They were keeping my baby awake! Don't you people know that children are trying to sleep?!

Once I finally got her to sleep, I stepped outside to watch what was going on around me. The fireworks were pretty measly, by my high standards. But instead of enjoying their beauty, I was terrified. All around me were the sounds of explosions. Fire was flying through the air. Smoke. I couldn't help but think of what it would be like to have those same sights, sounds and smells in my neighborhood, and to know it wasn't a celebration. To be in the midst of war. Of an attack. I began crying at the end of my driveway. There was a war going on on the other side of the world. A war that "we" were engaged in. What mothers were huddling in their home, terrified? What children were they trying to calm down enough so they could sleep?

I think it was that same year that in our neighborhood a young father was killed by an errant firework. 3 teenagers took a legal firework and "improved" it. It shot straight into a neighbors chest, while his daughter stood next to him. 3 teenagers who should now be in college are instead in prison, serving sentences for manslaughter. A man who should be raising his children is gone. Now that's some celebrating our freedom, huh?

Today I once again stood at the end of the driveway, watching fireworks. The fireworks in this neighborhood are a little fancier than the ones I watched from my driveway in California. But it still creeps me out. Really creeps me out.

Why is it that we celebrate our freedom by blowing things up? Why is it that we spend so much money on something that is so unsafe, but can't find the money to donate to a homeless shelter, or a cultural institution, or a church?

Fireworks no longer hold beauty for me. They represent fear. Destruction. Loss. Terror.

Tonight, the Glare is blinding.


Anonymous said...

I went to elementary school (elementary school!) with a boy who had half a hand. Be sure, I've never been a fan of fireworks.

I'm a little confused about the laws here, because most of my life they were illegal in this state, then they changed it and there are little tents set up all over all summer long so people can buy stupid noisy things they set off after having a few drinks.

I'm stopping now before this becomes a full-fledged rant.

thailandchani said...

What you say is very true. Few people actually consider the implications of what they're doing or what it actually means. The fireworks represent bombs.. and all that come with it.

Most people just like the noise and the colors.




ewe are here said...

I've always loved the giant, professionally-done fireworks shows that are held over water or at big parks.

It's the idiots who insist on doing all kinds of crazy things with cheap, store-bought fireworks that cause the carnage, as you point out. With those, there really is much to fear.

ewe are here said...

Oh, and I just did the Meme you tagged me for...finally! :-)

Beck said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Beck said...

Someone I disliked in high school - with extremely good reason - blew most of his fingers off with fireworks. Home fireworks - scary!

kittenpie said...

I hate the individual fireworks, too. I've seen one tip over and shoot through a crowd, knew someone whose father blew his hand off with one, and so on. I don't get why the town display, which is always quite nice, would not be enough. Some people are just crazy, if you ask me!

Bon said...

i'm not a fan of the things either. they're loud, they're dangerous, they're expensive.

i can understand how once, in a quieter time, they were exciting, caused wonder. now they're just another part of the rabble of colours and bling that distracts our kids, i think.

great post.

thirtysomething said...

I second your entire post. Fireworks hold no appeal for me either. Americans are so desensitized to the effects of violence that it just breeds more and more. I certainly agree that somehow we could find a better, more constructive, less dangerous way to celebrate our nation's birthday.

Christine said...

I hate those home fire works. when some idiot set one off in front of our house i nearly had a heart attack at 2 am last night. And i, too, have thought of the real, deadly bombs in places that seems so far but are actually a part of our small human world.

Oh, The Joys said...

Hmmm. Something to think about. Thanks.

nomotherearth said...

I do like fireworks when seen from afar (very far). The people who do them in their backyard, after the Boy has gone to bed of course, tick me off. That's an understatement.

jen said...

oh, amen. exactly.

we need to THINK and not just DO. like lambs to the freaking slaughter.

Anonymous said...

Your post inspired one - Fireworks - by the Library Lady.
Check it out.