My wife and I spent Independence Day two summers ago with the kids watching the fireworks in DC. I was stationed at Aberdeen Proving Ground at the time, and so it was a quick ride down to watch. And folks, they are really spectacular. The money spent on the fireworks must be astounding, because the entire show is like the last minute of a normal city's firework show. You know, that time when the fireworks come one right after the other, and very impressive in size, to signal that the end is near. Well, that's what the entire show is like in DC. I can't really remember if there was an even more spectacular last minute or so of fireworks to signal the end. Our tax dollars at work.
We watched from a small hill to the side of the Pentagon. We were on the other side from where the plane hit, but still, the work was going on 24 hours a day, so we could see the lights and the crews and hear the construction going on. It was very comforting to know that in a few months, the physical scar on the building would be gone.
We sat there among the other families. The weather was cooperating, so the kids all played around with sparklers and we had a very nice time. We met up with some of our friends. We watched the fireworks explode and heard the booms; we oohed and aahed, and picked out our favorite ones. I like the ones with what I call "screaming meemees", those twirling things that let out a high-pitched screech as they burn out. And the ones that start out as a big ball of sparks, then each spark sends a cascade of sparks down in a second burst. Our kids liked the ones that made designs in the sky; there was one that made a ring with a star in it that was red, white and blue. Our youngest was still in utero, so at best she just heard the booms.
That whole night is a great memory. This upcoming Independence Day celebration, like all of them, will bring a lot of folks to the Mall to watch the fireworks. I hope no one stays away because they are worried about terrorists. I hope no American has to change any plans for their family out of concern for terrorist attacks. If so, then our job here is not done.
I will stop calling Independence Day, "The Fourth of July." It is Independence Day, and it means a lot to me that my kids, less than a year after seeing their country successfully attacked with thousands killed, cheered the fireworks over the Mall while sitting very close to the where the Pentagon was hit. I don't know what the attacks did to their childhood, but I know I would have done anything I could to keep them from having that as part of their young lives, and part of my wife's life. I can't change the past, but they seem secure in their view of the future. That makes me one happy Dad and husband.
Take some pictures of your town's fireworks and send them to a soldier you know over here from your town. Let them know that back home, people still ooh and ahh when something blows up in the sky, and the kids wait happily in anticipation of the next one.
It's a great memory to get back in its proper place.