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Freedoms And Fireworks

The booths are down. The booms have ended and in time the street scars will be all but a memory.

Fireworks … The celebratory flashes of light used to commemorate our freedoms as a country.

A few years back, I was forced to accept the notion that our family would embrace the holiday celebration a bit differently. My oldest took years to warm up to the screams, bursts and flashes of ‘safe and sane’ fireworks. My youngest has yet to warm up to the notion of setting things ablaze to show her American spirit.

Not wanting to be ones to miss out, a few years ago I took them to a fireworks show. This, I assured myself, would be the right thing. It’s all in the sky, after all, how scary could that be?

The booms, however, are not and less than 10 minutes into the show, the three of us found ourselves navigating a crowd of people like salmon swimming upstream, with our car serving as our respite.

I’m an over thinker by default. I analyze all the time, just how my mind works.

That was the year I decided watching explosives did not best suit our family. Setting things on fire to watch them sparkle did not need to symbolize our patriotism.

This year, my head switched a bit. As we continue to feel the effects of a drought, I struggled with the notion of why our county still permits ‘Safe and Sane’ fireworks.

I posed the question in our staff room, only to be reminded by a few peers that it serves as a great fundraiser for non-profits. This wasn’t enough for me. My mind wraps logically.

My rebuttal was simple, so … Non-profits use the booths to fundraise a few thousand dollars. This can and often times results in a fire by one not so ‘sane’ buyer dancing in a dry field with sparklers, a la the statue of liberty. In turn, fire units are dispatched. Hopefully the fire is placed under control and the state pays thousands for those services, not to mention the water used.

Yeah, nothing says ‘America’ or the now more commonly used ‘Merica than selling products with potential of doing severe damage?

Truthfully, I held off on sharing these thoughts last week. I know these booths serve a lot of local groups and I’ll be the last one to stand in the way of that.

Then, Monday night I lie in bed listening to loud booms and screeching sounds both close and in the distant. I woke to my youngest telling me she slept on the couch, because she couldn’t escape the noise. I even found a social media feed filled with much displeasure as people were consoling pets and trying to find peace.

Not to be misunderstood, I know the loud booms don’t come from the ‘Safe and Sane,’ I also know I listened to a baby squealing not far from my bedroom window, as his father continued to light off his box of goodies from a local booth.

So what’s the point of this, other than a rant of a July Fourth shut in, whose kids aren’t big on the fireworks? Not even I know. Perhaps, I just felt the need to be the voice of the silent majority.

Maybe we need a movement. Maybe we need to return to the Norman Rockwell days of streets lined with people celebrating early in the day at a parade. Followed by the day spent with family and pie and American flags. After all, none of us look like Lady Liberty so please stop dancing in the fields with your box of sparklers lit in one hand and your cocktail in the other.

Maybe next year I’ll just be like the disgruntled celebrity who doesn’t like their voting choice. Yes, that’s it. Next year, let’s all take a road trip to Canada. Who’s in?

Happy Birthday America.


Teresa Hammond is a staff reporter for The Oakdale Leader, The Riverbank News and The Escalon Times. She may be reached at or by calling 847-3021.