What Fireworks Really Are: the Sound of War

Maybe it's time we lose them from our July 4 celebrations, writes Sarah Miller

By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff

Posted Jul 3, 2014 12:41 PM CDT

(Newser) – When Sarah Miller, then roughly 20, heard a "nonspecific rat-a-tat-tat" while catching a movie at a theater in Bogota, Colombia, she, along with everyone else, panicked. It turned out to be fireworks intended to commemorate the mall's anniversary, but hearing them "divorced from the context of potato salad alerted me to how much they truly evoke the sound of munitions," she writes for Time. And while fireworks are certainly a sight and sound of celebration, in the case of July Fourth, what we're commemorating is a war. It's admittedly a long-past one, "but many wars—Vietnam, the wars Iraq and Afghanistan—are not long over," she writes.

And it's not just veterans who might have an adverse reaction to fireworks. Consider also the millions of Americans who fled conflicts in "Southeast Asia, Central America, the Balkan states, the Middle East, Africa," a list of regions that basically makes up half our planet. As Americans, we're fairly unique in having managed to largely avoid the "homefront experience" with war. "So there’s perhaps something arrogant about being like, 'Whoo! Let’s make lots of sounds that sound like war!'" Maybe it's time to consider giving them up. Click for Miller's full column.

Fireworks light up the sky in Milwaukee.   (AP Photo/Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, Rick Wood)
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