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July 05, 2005

Why I dread July the Fourth

A great country deserves a great celebration of it's birthday. So we've always believed, and so we've always told ourselves. But it's been a long time since the Fourth of July has meant celebrating America's birthday. Today it means something else, something bad, something that if we stopped and really thought about we would be ashamed of.

One of the best tools we found for expressing our joy and exhilaration over celebrating our nation has been fireworks, but that tool has become the celebration itself. Most people don't celebrate Independence Day (when's the last time you heard that in reference to anything other than a movie title?) we celebrate “Fireworks Day”

Independence Day is about the nobility, honor and self-sacrifice our Founding Fathers and Mothers endured to bring about freedom for this country. “Fireworks Day” is about watching things blow up and make loud noises, generally to the accompaniment of lots of alcoholic beverages.

Independence Day is about celebrating that great conquest of Liberty made several centuries ago. “Fireworks Day” is about laughing at your neighbor because he gripes about needing to get up early in the morning after you've set of the 23rd salvo of Black Cats beneath his window at 1am, and smirkingly call him “unpatriotic”

Independence Day is about honoring those who gave their lands and even lives to provide freedom for others. “Fireworks Day” is about winking at the cop when he “asks” you to keep it down since it is against the law to pop fireworks in the city, then showering your neighbor's car with sparks as you watch the cop's taillights disappear around the corner, knowing it'll be a good twenty minutes before he'll be back.

Fireworks were a meaningful instrument for expressing our celebration at one time, but they've long ceased to be that. Now they are a shameful badge for the worst of America. The attitude that, I deserve to have fun regardless of how it might hurt others. That's how those that hate us portray us, and fireworks have become the toys of those that act and think that way.

Do I sound angry? Maybe it's because for the 7th year in a row I've gotten only a few hours sleep on the night of July the Fourth, while my family and I cringe in fear at volley after volley of fireworks shot off within feet of our home. Because each of us have seen neighboring houses burned to the ground within minutes. Because even though it is illegal to pop fireworks where we live, everyone knows the police won't do a thing, so they pop them until the wee hours of the night.

I try to call the police, but it does little good since they refuse to enforce the law, becoming an impotent, laughing stock in the name of “getting along” The neighborhood lights up as rockets are shot at roofs, cars, dry grass, and drunk imbeciles laugh, celebrating their brainlessness.

Yet throughout the “celebration” nowhere can be seen an American flag, or even a display of our national colors. No patriotic music, just the occasional raucous rock music, the words blurred by distance, but the volume definitely not. Freedom is just an excuse for license. So what if I'm endangering people, screw 'em, I'm having fun. So what if it's against the law, screw the law, I'm having fun. So what if it mean, rude and inconsiderate to keep my neighbors up until the middle of the night, screw 'em, I'm having fun. And anyone who gripes, I can just accuse of being unpatriotic -- whatever that means.

The Declaration of Independence says...

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. --That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, --That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government...

The Founding Fathers held that even a government that becomes destructive of life and liberty should be scrapped and replaced. What do you think they'd feel about a method of celebration that became destructive as well as distracting to the real purpose of the celebration?

Oh, and what has the response of the various cities been to the abuse (and their lack of enforcement that lead to it) they want to license people at $20 a pop (no pun intended) to pop fireworks in the city limits next year. A neighboring town did it this year. They could have made a ton of money simply fining the people already breaking the law, now they want to license stupidity, and make money off of it. Some argue that it will give the police more of an incentive to enforce the law (as if a paycheck isn't enough of an incentive). To me it sounds like the guy that accidentally dropped the quarter down the hole in the outhouse, then intentionally dropped a twenty. When asked why he dropped the twenty, he replied, “You don't think I'd go down there for just a quarter, do you?”

Posted by Danny Carlton at July 5, 2005 07:26 AM

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