Posted 12/10/2019 13:53:12
Category: Think Pieces
Ever since the US invasion of Afghanistan I've been unable to enjoy fireworks. Say what you will but for me, the sounds of fireworks conjure memories of the loud, fiery night skies of Kabul I saw via live-stream news coverage in October 2001. After my son deployed to Afghanistan in 2009, my unease with fireworks intensified. The loud booms I heard in my neighborhood on the 4th of July made me think not only of my son and other American soldiers in combat, but of the Afghans, such as those present at a wedding which was accidentally bombed by American warplanes. Celebratory fireworks in the US are followed by cries of delight. Nowadays, for me unfortunately, fireworks conjure worrisome thoughts of real rockets exploding in war zones, evoking cries of an altogether different sort.
This month I read an article* which made me aware that combat veterans also have issues with fireworks. Some vets check themselves into VA hospitals in July. Some work late into the night, to make sure they're occupied when celebrations begin. Some vets "hunker down" at home, and some head to the woods/go camping/"get away from civilization."
Thinking of Independence Day, I'm reminded that the thing we celebrate on that day, the signing of a document which formed the credo of this nation--We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness—did not translate immediately to freedom and independence for every citizen of the newly formed Republic. The institution of slavery continued. Women's rights remained restricted. Today, more than two centuries later, there are many for whom the promise of what was held to be "self-evident" still has not been fulfilled. And here we are, still glorifying "the rocket's red glare, the bombs bursting in air"...
The other night I had dinner with friends I've known since grade school. The weather was pleasant; we dined al fresco. While enjoying a lovely meal which included wild Alaskan King salmon, I reminisced about the time I fished for salmon on the Kenai River. Though it was on my mind, I did not mention my growing concern that the time is near when the majestic salmon, along with many other sea creatures, will be extinct--or, just as disheartening, will have become so toxic as to be inedible.
On the 27th, I watched the opening cermonies of the London 2012 Summer Olympics. Danny Boyle stunned viewers and told quite a story with his "Isles of Wonder" theme. Seven billion pieces of biodegradable confetti, representing every, single human on the planet, were set afloat over the stadium. There was a piece of confetti there for me! And for you!
For the first time in history, female Olympians outnumbered the males. Sir Paul tried to get the damsels to sing with him, but they were shy. I wish they'd roared!
This month a friend gave me a gift: a Creation Rose stained-glass plate from the Washington National Cathedral, a small replica of the famous window designed in the 1970s by stained glass artist Rowan LeCompte. Like fireworks, the plate is an explosion of light. Looking at it is a vibrant exercise for the eye yet it makes me quiet and still. For a while now, I've wanted a meditation room. When I get it, the plate will make a nice addition.
Until August, GO TEAM USA!