Fireworks have long been the celebratory medium of choice for Americans on the Fourth of July.
In recent years past, I can remember my wife and I buying tremendous packages of neatly aligned rockets and scuttlebutts, just begging to be ignited and ultimately, “ewwwed and awwwed” at.
However, this year is different.
I’m another year older and if I do say so myself, another year wiser. And with wisdom comes dissatisfaction in fellow men. I’m sure it wasn’t Joe Pantalanio’s character from 1999’s “The Matrix” that said it first, but perhaps it’s true that “ignorance is bliss”.
I say this, because I’ve recently become aware of the importance of ‘peace and quiet’. As a new parent, I’ve come to require both for myself, to balance the hours consumed with baby-associated sounds, and for the baby himself, during the times in which he needs his sleep.
The ignorant ‘crackers of fire’, so to speak, are of course much unaware of even the littlest complexities, let alone the challenges of nighttime parenting and the associated pitfalls.
My whole family tossed and turned until 3:30am on the morning of the Fourth of July. Whoo-hoo! Celebrate good times! This wasn’t even the evening of the 4th, which is typically when fireworks are set off. Tonight (the fourth) will surely be a hellish one. My son has already been woken up during his afternoon nap because of loud, percussive fireworks.
I set forth on my bicycle to locate the house that was setting off the fireworks in question. Living in a labyrinth of sorts, it took me about an hour to finally find it. Along the way, I spoke with about 6 or 7 individuals out and about who also complained of lack of sleep because of the fireworks last night. I asked them to call the authorities, as I would be doing shortly.
Finally, I found the house in question. At 4:45pm, 7/4/2012, there were at least 10 automobiles parked outside of the residence and it was no secret that their residence was responsible for continuous fireworks throughout much of the night before. In the short amount of time it took me to ride by on my bicycle, I witnessed an individual from the residence stumble into a neighboring yard with a plastic red cup that ferociously sloshed beer, all while talking louder than necessary on a cell phone. I also heard what sounded like 20-30 people in the back yard cheering, talking and carrying on in a celebratory fashion.
I’m patriotic. My wife is an Army veteran and I am an active duty military spouse and stay-at-home dad. I’ve been involved in local and state politics since I was old enough to vote, serving multiple times as an elections official and judge in my respective communities as well as working for candidate’s individual campaigns here and there.
To me, there is nothing American about cracking fireworks.
To begin with, they’re dangerous and “few people understand the associated risks – devastating burns, other injuries, fires, and even death.”1 Secondly, they’re cheap thrills. No person of intellect I’ve ever met entertains with fireworks to the extent that most offenders do. It seems like a bit of a layperson’s infatuation. Third, about 99% of fireworks come directly to the US from China. This frivolous spending on fleeting satisfaction therefore is even worse for the American economy than at first meets the eye. In fact, “consumers will spend over $600 million on fireworks”2 this Fourth of July. That $600 million dollars is considerably more than Obama’s projected 2010 numbers for welfare recipients3, yet I hear little opposition to effectively sending this money directly to China, our largest debtor and perhaps our smallest source of empathy and/or common ideals. Fourth, and perhaps most important, and definitely most relevant to my own scenario, fireworks are quite disruptive. In my journey to find the house with the perpetual firecracker-ing, I talked with a number of people on jogs, walks, or in their front yards and asked them if they, too, were disturbed. Every person I questioned responded yes, that they too were kept up at night by the percussive annoyances.
So, in summary, I ask you, fellow Americans, what is it that makes us participate so blindly in something like fireworks? It is my opinion that firecrackers do NOT make one patriotic, but rather that it is a common misconception that being patriotic leads to setting of firecrackers. I think it would be the most beneficial to all Americans, regardless of class or economic interests to put this tradition to bed once and for all.
1.National Fire Protection Association, http://www.nfpa.org/categoryList.asp?categoryID=297&cookie_test=1
2.Forbes Online, “Fourth of July By The Numbers,” http://www.forbes.com/2010/06/29/fourth-of-july-independence-lifestyle-travel-spending.html
3. CNSNews.com, “Obama Will Spend More on Welfare in the Next Year Than Bush Spent on Entire Iraq War, Study Reveals,” http://cnsnews.com/news/article/obama-will-spend-more-welfare-next-year-bush-spent-entire-iraq-war-study-reveals