Wednesday, July 07, 2010

Explosions for America

Another July 4th has passed, and so I have spent another weekend in the countryside with friends, celebrating the independence of my country by blowing up a small part of it.

Actually, my friends and I did not blow up any piece of America, though we set off some very pretty and mostly legal fireworks for a gathering of friends. It was a relatively mild affair, as there were children there to enjoy the show and our host puts too much work into maintaining his property to have his n’er-do-well friends damage it. No one got hurt and no one called the police.

Growing up in Yonkers, the neighborhood teenagers invested heavily in massive amounts of fireworks. I would come out of my building on the morning of July 5th to find the gutters littered with spent firecrackers, red M-80 shells, and the exploded waste of an evening of gunpowder-fueled debauchery. Once, I noticed that one of the heavy steel garbage cans that served the apartments was face down in the street, blown apart and looking like a discarded banana peel. As a youngster, I yearned to be one of the adults lighting the firecrackers to the disapproval of my parents. Now I am and it’s awesome.

Sure, there are plenty of idiots who blow their arms off or set fire to themselves (full disclosure: a cinder from a sparkler I was holding burned a hole in my shirt this year; I was unharmed), but the overwhelming majority of firework celebrations go off without incident.

The night was aglow this past weekend with firework celebrations sanctioned and unsanctioned, legal and illegal. There aren’t enough police in the world to stop every American from setting off fireworks. And it was a glorious sign that the American spirit is alive and well.

Fireworks are Americans telling their government that we don’t need or want its approval in how we define and exercise our freedoms. It’s we the people taking the celebration and the meaning of America into our own hands. We’re showing our government and the world that we’re not afraid of fire, not afraid of things that go boom, and just not afraid.

1 comment:

jeff Sheahan said...

you were holding a sparkler!? what a queer.