Archive for Wednesday, July 5, 2000

The bombs bursting in air

July 5, 2000

Early Monday morning, thunder and lightning exploded outside and rain pummeled the roof for a good half-hour or more. Finally, like the sound of a hushed audience going home after a rave performance, the raindrops slowed and then ceased.

That's when the silence awoke me. It wasn't the rain that caused sleeplessness, but rather the silence. I reflected on the thunderstorm, or rather, nature's fireworks, that had enjoined the rain, and wondered how Frances Scott Key in 1814 must have felt when watching a different kind of aerial show, inspired to compose what is now our national anthem.

What must it have been like to have witnessed first-hand the process of the birth of and fight for freedom in our nation?

It's something that we take for granted today this freedom we've known every day of our lives this freedom that so many have given so much to create and preserve.

Monday night during a walk at the park, the sound of fireworks echoed across Tonganoxie. On this cusp of our celebration of independence in the first year of the millennium, do the children who are busily trying their hand at lighting fireworks understand the importance of freedom?

At my house, and probably at many of yours, the Fourth of July is to kids almost like Christmas a big celebration packed with surprises. And like Christmas, it's a holiday when things meaningful often take a backseat to things that money can buy.

Youngest son worked for a week this year to earn his fireworks money. He understands the value of a dollar, yes, but does he, and do other children, understand the value of independence? Do they really get the picture?

It's a picture of people who, thankfully, have not during their lifetimes, seen a war on their home turf. It's a picture of people who wake up every morning knowing they can go to work, drive a car, shop for groceries. It's a picture of people free to praise or criticize their government. And it's a picture of people gifted with freedom in countless avenues of life, friendship and spirituality.

Saturday night as we watched an aerial fireworks show near town, the crowd of some 400 applauded the brightest showers of light. Yesterday, the children delighted in tossing smoke bombs that sizzled in clouds of pastel smoke. And then, of course, there were the firecrackers. When evening came, brilliant sparkles dotted the night sky, varying in intensity until gradually the sounds quieted and the lights dimmed into darkness.

And then, in the quiet of the night, as fireflies took over the show, we picked up our chairs and blankets and headed indoors the performance having ended, but freedom, the reason behind our celebration, still standing strong.

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