There are few sounds in this world that can instantly strike fear into my heart. One is the sound of a baby crying against the backdrop of ominous circus music. Another is the loop of woodland jungle sounds that plays during the title screen of my Lost DVD collection. But worst of all, is the sound of the first lone firework blazing into the sky.
Because where one firework launches, there will soon be many, many others. And while I don’t particularly fear the fireworks themselves, the mayhem that follows is always a cause for alarm.
Perhaps it’s just my group of friends that choose to abuse the awesome power of bottle rockets, but it seems like every year someone has to have an emergency finger reattachment or a last minute skin graft to repair the damage.
It’s a precarious balance between festive holiday cheer and a grim flaming battleground reminiscent of a bad day in Fallujah, and I’ve yet to successfully walk that line. On television, firework celebrations always appear to be joyous occasions with smiling children. In my experience, the reality is a loud, explosive debacle that always seems to result in severe cases of mental distress for the neighborhood children and pets.
So why do we choose to surround ourselves with fiery embers and unrestrained explosions each and every year? Why do we run the risk of crippling injuries and hearing loss that lasts for days on end?
Because America, that’s why.
I truly believe that our founding fathers intended for us to lay waste to the sky with flaming red rockets and whistling missiles. To scorch the earth with our glowing fountains and our blazing sparklers. To frighten the family dog, causing her to frantically eat our shoes, spin in a circle and hide in the bathtub until the crack of dawn.
That’s why, after Ronald Reagan signed the Declaration of Independence atop his red, white and blue liberty eagle, he shot roman candles out of each hand in celebration.
Fireworks are an integral part of American tradition, a way for the common man to express his patriotism. A way for our nation’s children to gaze in wonderment at the scorched remains of a “Fizzing Supernova Rocket” that their poor fathers unfortunately lit from the wrong end.
The sole reason that the right to launch fireworks wasn’t outlined within the Constitution was that the founding fathers considered it to be without question. (I learned that on Wikipedia, it’s even true! Probably.)
And this was how I chose to express my patriotism this year. With little rockets that shattered glass for miles with the force of their impact, and a mortar tube that may or may not have contained a large amount of military-grade napalm.
What I’m trying to say is that, as a citizen of the U.S.A., it was my patriotic duty to ignite every combustible substance within a 50 foot radius in celebration of the greatest nation on earth.
So believe me when I say that when I accidentally set that farm ablaze on the 4th, it wasn’t because I was “playing with fire” as the naïve police officer suggested. It was for America.
Besides, it was completely out of my control that my rocket happened to land in the center of an old dry cornfield. In fact, one might even claim that by burning to the ground, that field showed its true colors as a traitor to America.
And perhaps maybe my festivities did get a bit out of hand. Admittedly I know very little about things like safety procedures and fireworks.
But even as I sit in court with the judge throwing around cute little phrases like “arson”, “menace to the public” and “threat to homeland security”, I can only think of one thing.
Damn I’m proud to be an American.