‘Murica. If I had to describe Independence Day in one word, it would simply be “‘Murica.”
I’ve always had a weird relationship with Independence Day, or “the fourth of July” as I tend to hear more often. As a kid, we did Independence Day big. And I don’t mean we went somewhere to see professional fireworks shows. We shot fireworks at home. And not small, gas station fireworks. We had hookups with people who shot professional fireworks, and somehow managed to acquire some of these for our own purposes.
As such, I’ve always been intimately familiar with fireworks. That includes the mishaps that can go along with amateur firework shows. We’ve had a dog run by and snatch up an actively firing cake of Saturn Missiles, shooting off as we chased her around the yard. A larger cake of balls with report tipped over once, pointing directly at where the entire audience was seated. Another time, a rocket shot up into a tree and caught the top of the tree on fire. Someone had to climb up an adjacent tree and put out the fire… with urine. Perhaps most seriously, someone once almost lost some fingers when setting off a 30-30 shell filled with gunpowder.
With all these minor disasters, we’ve fortunately never had anyone die or seriously injured. There may have been some shrapnel in a hand for a few months, but no loss of limbs. And oddly enough, we never once learned our lesson. We kept doing the same stuff for years, despite knowing exactly what could come from it. If memory serves, the definition of insanity is doing the same thing multiple times and expecting different results.
This went on for a number of years, and then halted suddenly. For the past few years, we haven’t done much of anything for Independence Day. The kids are too young to stay out super late, so shooting fireworks late into the evening is a hassle. Plus, I’ve lived in apartments and developments for a number of years, none of which allowed fireworks to be shot nearby. So I’m left with the option to drive half an hour to shoot fireworks in my old stomping grounds or go see a professional show. Neither is an exactly attractive option, because I don’t want to spend money on fireworks of my own and I hate dealing with crowds when going to a professional show.
In any case, I find it interesting how Independence Day has simultaneously lost and maintained its original meaning. I wouldn’t doubt that a large number of people might not even recognize that fourth of July is Independence Day, let alone what its significance is. To them, it’s a day to shoot fireworks and have a cookout. But honestly, is that not a intensely American thing to do? We like big guns and things to explode. We have some of the worst over-eating habits in the world. What we do for Independence Day, whether we recognize it or not, genuinely expresses ‘Murica.
I don’t mean to make any sort of social commentary. Independence Day is one of the many holidays that I would elect to work on to get bonus pay or another PTO day instead. What we do to celebrate could all be done after I would normally get off work anyway. Fireworks are cool and all, but I’m not as obsessed as a lot of people. I’m on a diet now, so I can’t binge eat like I normally would. It’s… lackluster, but it is something.