No Fourth of July Fireworks

Moon and Flag

Daily Photo

I never remember a Fourth without fireworks. Potluck, homemade ice cream, Oohing and Ahhing as streamers of bright red, gold and blue sparks shimmer through velvety dark blue Humboldt nights– that is Independence Day to me.

But the Lightning Fires sent like punishment from an angry God for sins committed in my name by a president I didn’t elect are symbols of a changing world, a world where climate change is given, where natural disasters occur unnaturally often. The innocent joy of running with a spray of sparks magically fanning out behind can’t be risked in a time when drought turns grass to tinder. Mendocino County, still covered with flames and smoke, has banned fireworks. Our local town’s firework display has been canceled for similar concerns. Small roadside stands in Humboldt County still hawk rockets but the cash registers don’t seem to ching as often. The vendor in front of the grocery store brought in a beautiful young woman wearing high heels and short shorts in a desperate attempt to bring in customers.

Like the fireworks, the innocent pride I felt at belonging to a country that put human rights as an important priority can’t be sustained in a time when torture and detention at Guantanamo provides fodder for the terrorists’ fiery rage. Iraq still chokes under the smoke still settling from a war we thrust on them. Fourth of July celebrations are fewer and less heartfelt, brassier and more commercial as our country desperately tries to recapture the joy that only comes with a belief that we are behaving well. And we aren’t.*

In an unconscious reflection of my country’s spirit,this evening instead of gathering with friends joyously lighting the sky with fireworks, I will be huddled around the TV with my family watching The Bucket List, a movie about two terminally ill men who set out to really live before they die.

I’m an incredibly optimistic person. I celebrate every day the beauty that I see in nature and in people. And, I believe we can still turn our country around. I believe that this fall we can hold the candidates and their parties to a standard that raises the actions of our country to a level we can be proud of.

The best patriot I know is not one who blindly salutes the flag with an unwavering belief in America but, instead, a true patriot gets informed, speaks out, and takes action against egregious acts of evil.


*I’m not saying the U. S. always behaved well in the past but we’ve fallen to a new low not seen in since the Japanese concentration camps of World War II.



  • Here is wishing us all stronger, better times.

  • We know that the firework sales are just one of many ways our local nonprofit organizations earn money for their many projects that benefit our community. Yesterday, I stopped to talk to Firework Vendors in downtown Garberville. I asked if they were seeing a large drop in sales because of the danger of fires. And, as I suspected, the answer was yes. The vendor told me that each year his organization donates a couple of $500 scholarships to local high school students. “Sales are down,” he said, so next year the scholarships may only be a couple hundred dollars. ”
    But, on the up side of this situation, he told me that many of his regular customers stopped by, not to purchase huge boxes of fireworks but to say, “We aren’t doing fireworks this year but we want to support the good you do in our community,” and they left donations, large and small for next year’s scholarships.
    There are a lot of things that aren’t right in our country right now, but there is still that sense of helping those less fortunate and pulling together when things get rough, that we see right here in Southern Humboldt County and, I suspect, runs deep throughout the communities of our country.

  • A 4th of July without fireworks seems so incomplete but yet totally understandable and expected. I hope those folks wishing to partake amongst some festitivities can make it into town or found their own “safe” way to celebrate. I sure hope next year is better.

  • I am really looking forward to the USA making a U-turn as well. Yesterday some friends and I were discussing how much of a challenge it seems it is going to be to graduate college and try to start a life this year.
    Ever since I was around 20 years old I have been secretly waiting for a ban of fireworks in Humboldt because I feared disaster. Alcohol, lots of fire, dry heat, and the vegetation of that area don’t mix. I commend Mendocino for the ban!
    PS Where did you take this picture?

  • Max, your piece was an inspiration to this one.

    Mom, excellent point about the local nonprofits. I hope they salvage something.

    Sandi, I’m hoping we all come up with a substitute but I’m a bit sad about the lack of sparkles in my life.

    Ren, I took the picture at the Harley Run. Thanks Tex and Gypsy for pointing out what a beautiful site the moon and flag made.

  • I just just going to ask if that was the moon or the sun. Very pretty!

  • Bravo Kym, Well said! I’m afraid the turn around will be preceded by one of the nastiest campaigns of all time. Those big money boys are going to do all they can to retain their power. We must be careful to actively involve ourselves and not to consider Obama a done deal. Remember Willie Horton? That was Daddy Bush who pulled off an ad that was stunningly racist and it set a stage that defeated Michel Dukakis even though Dukakis went into the campaign with terrific numbers.

  • Well said, Kym. i have to believe that we, as a country, aren’t really lost. just wandering a bit. and we will find someone(s) with the courage and integrity to lead us back to the the integrity and example we need. someday… i have to believe…

  • Yes, this was a very different Fourth for me, too. We spent an hour on the Arcata Plaza. Saw lots of vendors with a big variety of ethnic food, but unless I completely missed it, I never saw one vendor selling hot dogs. What kind of American holiday is it with not a hot dog in sight? 😀

    We didn’t go to the fireworks in Arcata or Eureka either. Maybe I should light a birthday candle and wave it around before the night is completely over.

  • I was contemplating why the fireworks really are such an integral part of celebrating independence and perhaps it is to remind us to keep on shining and doing our part to light up a dark world.

  • I was just thinking it was tradition, TJ, but I think you are right–traditions become stronger when their symbolism is strong enough to reach into our hearts.

    Bluelaker, Mom had sparklers (or what passes for sparklers these days) but we never touched them. It just didn’t seem like the Fourth. We had a wonderful time but it just wasn’t a holiday.

    Gnukid, I have to believe too. Otherwise the country seems pretty bleak right now.

    Ben, I hope our people have learned a little from Bush’s years in office. Hopefully, “we won’t get fooled again.”

    Elisabeth, thank you.

  • I recently apologized-in-advance to a friend of Arab origins regarding our then pending July 4th festivities. I too feel embarrassed to be an American. Our zeal for liberty and justice seems to have been dissolved in favour of big-business-uber-alles.

  • They did that where I live too:
    EXCEPT there was a community show-hosted by an insurance company that hounded a cancer patient into her grave by going back and denying all the claims they had previously paid to her doctor.

    A bunch of my neighbors shot stuff off anyway…and a good time was had by all.


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