Please know, your excess is going up in smoke

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Margaret Svilar

Noise and chaos around the corner. People reluctantly running with their children in their arms to the city’s gathering areas to see the commotion. Soon, social media is on fire with news about a historical event a year in the making.

It is obvious by listening to the world around them, that there are people in rebellion to the local world in which they live. No, I’m not talking about the uprising and ousting of President Morsi in Egypt. I’m talking about the local scene on July 4, in our own Camas.

Please know, I do not intend to convey that the events in Egypt are anything less than extremely critical. After only a year, the Egyptian people and military have clearly given a vote of no confidence on the Democratic administration of President Morsi.

It is a big concern to the United States and our democracy since Egypt is a big ally of ours in the war against terrorism. And our democracy is built on our unalienable rights.

So, on a holiday celebrating our 237th Independence Day, why is it that our neighborhoods sound like a “war zone?”

I’m not sure what a “war zone” would sound like. I have never fought in a war, but I have family members who have actively fought or been imprisoned as a result of World War II.

I grew up with Walter Cronkite broadcasting on TV news about the “Tet Offensive,” and the sobering number of how many thousands of soldiers lost weekly in the Vietnam War. The toppling of the Berlin Wall. The Gulf War. The conflicts in Iraq, Afghanistan, the list goes on.

For these brave men and women who have fought and are fighting to make sure we have the most excellent freedoms of any country, I have been and always will be grateful.

However, the freedom we use in discharging fireworks in our celebration of Independence Day seems to illuminate our bounds of freedom.

As a child, seeing fireworks in Minnesota usually meant going to a big city park, lake, or in our case, the local drive-in movie theater. My brothers and I would utter several “ooh’s” and “aah’s” sitting in our pajamas on top of our Corvair, watching these wonderful emissions of sparkling beauty explode over our heads.

Now at your local firework stand, anyone 16 or older can purchase the makings of what could be the “biggest fireworks display west of the Mississippi.”

Massive pyrotechnic displays are not just for the professionals anymore. I am starting to come to the conclusion that many people in our community actually wanted to be a “fireworks launcher” when they grew up and the Fourth of July is an opportunity to show their stuff.

To some of these “Temporary Pyrotechnic Specialists,” (TPS as they are known), there seems to be no clear limits as to how much to launch and when. Despite local city regulations and laws, there are some TPS’ers who cross this line which tie up our local police and fire officials, possibly making them unavailable to respond to life or death situations.

The noise level is another issue many of us have experienced. At 2 p.m. on July 2, is it really necessary to show your celebration for the Fourth of July by discharging a pyrotechnic loud enough to make the windows reverberate in my house?

It is quite an annoyance for the ears of young and old alike, not to mention our pets, livestock, and the new family of geese who have set up camp nearby. I wonder what they think?

If you go to a fireworks show or on the Fourth of July, one can expect loud booms, “ooh’s” and “aah’s.” We can prepare our ears and most other living things around us for this.

And the mess. Despite the intention of many TPS’ers to clean up after themselves, there are some who don’t clean and the mess is around for months to come.

A fire? Someone becoming maimed? A list of terrible possibilities can go on and on, but the bottom line is: why such overabundance and excess? The USA is a land of the free and home of the brave, but some of these TPS exhibitions seem to amplify our country’s embarrassing reputation of overabundance and excess.

Please know, I am not against selling or discharging fireworks in a reasonable manner. Shopping at local firework stands supports the local economy, local non-profit groups, and benefits the community.

Even regulations and laws are becoming more restrictive with each year. Perhaps increasing the minimum age to discharge fireworks may help, but probably not. Because it is the responsibility of the purchasers, adults, or parents to make good decisions and pass that on to future TPS’ers.

Is spending that much money on serious pyrotechnics truly necessary to celebrate Independence Day?

Imagine if you will a way to encourage anyone spending money on fireworks, to perhaps personally donate just 10 percent of what they are spending to a non-profit. That’s just $2 of every $20 spent. Perhaps to the people who fought and are fighting for you is a good place to start, our veterans and soldiers.

Yes, they are doing this so you have the freedom to indulge in your overabundance and excess, whatever it may be. Even if it just goes up in smoke.

Margaret Svilar transplanted to Camas from Minnesota about 17 years ago. She retired from Northwest/Delta Airlines, where she worked for 30 years.

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