July 4 links and American patriots

Happy Independence Day to the Bleeding Heartland community! I’m hoping for dry weather today after rain soaked parade-goers in West Des Moines last night.

How are you celebrating the holiday? Charles Lemos listens to the Broadway musical 1776 every year on the 4th of July. Sounds like a good tradition.

Over at Slate, Troy Patterson made the case against fireworks.

I enjoy big fireworks displays, but I don’t like amateurs messing around with firecrackers. Not only are those dangerous, they can be very upsetting to veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder:

These days I dread the 4th. It’s not for the jingoism I was too young to understand as a child, which irks me, but I try not to let other’s infantile politics change the spirit of the holiday for me.  The real reason is I’m not much for fireworks anymore.  I haven’t been since I came back from Iraq. […]

Not the big, professional kind.  While I don’t enjoy them nearly as much as I used to, I can observe them with no apprehension.  It’s the amateur fireworks I can’t stand.  The whistling, popping, exploding-at-random-intervals kind that rub my nerves raw.  All of my neighbors, it seems, are fireworks enthusiasts, and every 4th they come out of the woodwork.  The night’s events bother my dog less than me, while I spend the evening on pins and needles, jumping at every explosion, transported for a split-second back to that hellhole until I remind myself that I am home, that I am safe, that I survived.

If you know a veteran of this or any other war, take a moment tomorrow to make sure that they are all right, that the images of horror and death don’t weight too heavy on them.  That they are as close to normal as they’ll ever be.

I never thought about that until I read this post by Steve Gilliard on Independence Day three years ago:

Personally, I hate fireworks, the noise, the explosions. Always reminded me of Pathfinder Force over Germany. Don’t much like the 4th of July either.

But I just wanted to say that for a lot of people, this is a very tough day, especially with PTSD. While everyone else is celebrating, they’re either alone, or pretending nothing is wrong. And every firecracker reminds them exactly what is wrong, and why they aren’t the same.

It’s easy to talk about sacrifice on the 4th of July. But who talks about what people live with?

Final note: military service isn’t the only way to serve your country. In my book, Rob Marqusee is a true American patriot. I’m inspired by his personal commitment to improving health and economic vitality in his community. Marqusee recently completed his “local food challenge,” and I recommend reading his online journal about the experience.

Few people will take on the challenge of eating a completely local diet, but small steps by many to eat more local food and buy from locally-owned shops will make a difference.

Share your own thoughts about holiday celebrations and American heroes in this thread.

UPDATE: Fun parade in Windsor Heights despite overcast skies and unseasonably cool weather. Most people kept it civil, but some weird group of wingnuts filled their yard with signs about Obama being MARXIST and shouted “Obamanation!” at the Polk County Democrats as we passed by. I laughed at them and threw candy to their kids.

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