4th of July & Me
Posted July 4, 2010on:
Kaboom! Ooh! Ahh!
Yes it’s the Fourth of July when we celebrate our country’s independence from the British.
I’m all for independence. I love the United States, but I just don’t want to go see the fireworks tonight.
You know you’re a grump when you don’t want to go see the fireworks. That’s me.
In La Crosse, we actually have the opportunity to see fireworks twice a year. At midnight on New Year’s Eve, they can be seen from my front lawn over the bluffs or a block away where my neighbors have an annual party. I’m always eager to call it a night before that happens. I want to get to sleep – if I can – before the booms in the sky.
I have oohed and aahed for years and years, especially when the kids were little. I remember the year that nearly 2-year-old Maggie did her first somersault (or cartwheel) as we sat in lawn chairs down by the Mississippi River. The symphony performed the 1812 Overture with noisy fireworks at the finale.
I remember 5-year-old Matt covering his ears when he heard the blasts. We ended up leaving early because it was just too loud for him. And of course any excuse is a good excuse to send me home.
Incidentally, La Crosse is the kind of town where you can put out chairs and a tarp to reserve your spot for the fireworks and return hours later. They’ll still be there and your place is honored.
Still, my ears perked up this week when I heard a Vietnam veteran, Ken Kalish, talk on Minnesota Public Radio. He noted fireworks are displays meant to show patriotism but the most patriotic of all – veterans – often shy away from them.
“For me, there’s no piece of holiday music that compares to the 1812 Overture accompanied by artillery. It’s the best … so long as I’m watching it (and the fireworks) on TV,” he said.
The problem is the growing reliance on what he called “The Salute,” which he described as shells exploding in ear-splitting booms with a “concussive wave that feels as though it could damage your organs.”
With those booms come many memories and terror of his war experiences. “Those of us who’ve been in combat don’t like to make a big deal out of it, but next time you’re in the park watching fireworks, take a look around. A lot of veterans — as patriotic as they come — won’t be there,” he said.
Kalish said he does not need to relive the terror of incoming shells, sensations that he said, “used to come with a buddy’s violent loss of life or limbs. I can do without the vivid reminders, thank you.”
Those we are honoring with fireworks – those very patriotic folks who risked their lives – may be most affected by the fireworks soundtrack and not in a positive way.
He did say that he appreciate the rockets’ red glare, but just wishes they “leave out bombs bursting in air.”
You can read Kalish’s entire essay at: http://minnesota.publicradio.org/display/web/2010/07/02/kalish/
I hope the rain stays away so you can enjoy the fireworks tonight. I would not want to rain on your parade fireworks. Enjoy.
Me? I’ll be in bed reading.