Friday, July 11, 2008

The Magic Is Gone

Bloomfield is having their annual Fourth of July fireworks tonight and while they are impressively big and ... well, impressive, it occurs to me that there's something unpatriotic about fireworks on any day of the year that's not the Fourth of July.

Now, I'll be the first to admit that I'm sentimental and silly. I always get teary over the national anthem (yes, I know, please don't make fun when you see me next). The problem is that as a history major (how long can I continue to cling to that collegiate designation? another ten years?) I know that the "bombs bursting in air" that the fireworks symbolize were actual bombs.

Bursting in air.

That meant something once upon a time. Once upon a time we fought a big, bloody war in our own backyard, and I feel like that doesn't really mean anything anymore. Nowadays our lives are extremely sanitized. We're told how many are dead in headlines and we see the images in the media but they don't carry the same weight and resonance that they did twenty, thirty and forty years ago.

I remember in college reading Bartolome de Las Casas book which was published in 1552. The book is called A Brief Account of the Destruction of the Indies and it was definitely brief. The other notable fact about the book is how quickly one becomes desensitized to the brutal, repulsive and horrendous behavior of the conquistadors. I think that's sort of where we are now.

I don't know anyone who's made sacrifices for the war, and yes, it's great that we're not asked to but really is that the point? Should we be grateful that we're not asked to or should we be suspicious that we're not asked to?

I'm not sure where I'm going with this but as I listen to the fireworks burst on the other side of my window I'm thinking, "Thank God I don't live in Iraq. Thank God I don't live in Afghanistan. Thank God I was born in a country that had their war for independence hundreds of years ago (I'd tell you exactly how many except, again, history major, not math) and that this is a once a year occurrence, a celebration and not an attack. Not friendly fire. Not a car bomb. Not a person who's going to blow up."


Joy said...


I was totally expecting a, "Fireworks just aren't the same when they aren't on July 4" post.

But I gotta tell ya, I LOVE this. And I'm right there with you!

mp said...


Joan said...

Like Joy - this isn't what I expected - but so much better! Your words made me stop and be thankful also for what we have.

savvy said...

Great stuff, and so very true. Perhaps if people had to sacrifice more for combat and violence executed in the name of our country we as a nation would be less likely to use violence as anything but an absolute last resort. Unfortunately we live in a time where wealthy powerful "leaders" send others off to die under the umbrella of "democracy", when it is clearly nothing more than an exercise in empire building and green. Great post!!