Its been about 6 hours since the sun set and about four hours until it rises again. The world is eerily quiet. There are no barking dogs. No engines revving, or cars driving by with the music so loud that it shakes my windows. But most importantly, the fireworks have ceased.
Just hours ago, there were colorful flashes of light outside both my front and back windows. I watched from inside as the skies lit up all around me. The displays were a sensory overload. The stench of gunpowder was slightly overshadowed by the rainbow of colors and the sound of children’s exclamations of delight. And if that was all I could hear, I’d probably be asleep right now. But that’s not what happens.
The noise of Fourth of July celebrations disturbs me, even more so than the trash left in the street. (Clean up after yourselves, people!) I don’t hear Black Cats and bottle rockets. I hear bombs and missiles. I hear gun-fire. It hurts my ears, and it hurts my heart.
Because I know somewhere in the world, there’s a little girl covering her ears and closing her eyes, praying that the noise will stop so she can come out of her hiding place.
Because I know there’s a little boy, seeing the flashes in the sky, hoping that his daddy will come home safely.
Because I know that war is a reality for far too many of the world’s citizens.
Is it not odd that we celebrate by reenacting the trauma? War is not like a game of Spades, wherein, sometimes, a dramatic reenactment is better than the actual win. In Spades, both the winners and losers can walk away seemingly uninjured. (Bruised egos do not count.). War leaves many with permanent scars, and many never return.
This holiday season, be mindful of the way you celebrate. While you’re eating way too much (like I did) and spending quality time with family, think also about the little girl who is still waiting for the noise to stop, and the boy who is waiting for his papa to come home. Think of the veteran who lives down the block whose unseen wounds are reopened every time he hears sniper blasts or a string of fireworks tied together.
Celebrate however you like, but remember those who hear and see things differently.
And clean up after yourself when you’re done.