Monday, July 04, 2011


It is not often that a 7th-Century invention has relevance in the modern day, but fireworks do.  Today, the Fourth of July, hundreds of thousands of bombs, rockets and shells will go off throughout the United States.  From a device meant to repel evil spirits, fireworks today communicate beauty, awe and celebration.  About the only ones who do not like them are infants whom the loud reports scare into squalls.  It doesn't take long for the young to understand that something magical is happening in the sky. 

Fireworks are communal.  The town gathers to watch them.  The idea that one would set off a display for no one other than himself is selfishness, and anyway, it would be nearly impossible to do so.  It is optimistic to say that the sense of community carries over after a display but those gathered during the show have a sense of togetherness to appreciate what they are witnessing.  Asking fireworks to overcome divisions among citizens is asking too much.  They remind one, however, that it is possible to find a common ground even among enemies.

Our fireworks will explode well after dark in the safety of the town park.  My daughter will be there with her friends and hundreds of other citizens, young and old, sitting on their blankets with their necks craned skyward.  They won't speak much until the show is over then they will reminisce.  Is there a better way to spend the Fourth?


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